summer salads, part four: loaded lentil salad with feta, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette

My mom used to make lentils and being the weird kid that I was, I loved them. I used to skip the second round of steak and instead scoop more of the little green-grey legumes onto my plate. A recent trip to an eclectic cafe & brewery brought them back into my life through a loaded lentil salad, served with a homemade vinaigrette. Simple and delicious, I knew I could make it at home. And for $1.29, I got an entire bag of lentils that should last me a year. Nice.

So, that's what we had for lunch one day this past weekend. We topped a bed of lettuce with cooled, soft lentils, chickpeas, diced tomato and cucumber, walnuts, salty feta cheese and drizzled it all with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette - but, for the record, any balsamic vinaigrette would be delicious.

And for the record, lentils are low calorie, yet jam-packed with fiber and protein (these bad boys give soybeans a run for their money!), folate and B vitamins. Show them no mercy and get creative with them. This salad is just one of the many ways to enjoy them.

Loaded Lentil Salad with Feta, Walnuts and Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette
Raspberry Vinaigrette (makes enough for about three salads)
  • 1/2 c canola or olive oil
  • 1/2 raspberry balsamic vinegar (or standard balsamic vinegar if you want to skip the fruity dressing)
  • 1/4 c (or less) of sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper
Shake the above ingredients vigorously in a small jar with a lid until combined. Set aside and make the salad.
  • Lettuce - red leaf, spring mix and spinach are good choices
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Scallions, sliced on an angle
  • 3/4 c cooked lentils (as directed, just be sure to add a little salt to the water, and cooled)*
  • 1/2 c chickpeas, drained
  • Walnuts
  • Crumbled feta (gorgonzola would be good, too)
  • Pepper
Assemble salad and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

*Note: Cook lentils like you would rice, but don't expect all of the water to be absorbed. You'll need to drain the lentils when they're soft.

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