Mediterranean Lentil Salad

I really should have called this Lentil Inside-Out Salad. Here’s why: With most salads, you pour the dressing on at the end and coat the dish from the outside in. But in this salad, the lentils cool off in the fridge in a bath of dressing—in this case olive oil, lemon, and cumin. They absorb all of this wonderful flavor, which is heightened by the addition of red bell pepper, kalamata olives, parsley, and mint.

This Mediterranean delight is like a vacation to the island of Crete without leaving your home. Le Puy lentils are resilient little things that hold their shape well throughout the cooking process, making them perfect for a salad.

Serves 6

1 cup dried lentils, French Le Puy
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled and bruised
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon sea salt (used during the cooking of the lentils)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½  teaspoon ground cumin
½  teaspoon sea salt
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced small
¼ cup Kalamata olives, rinsed and sliced
3 tablespoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 ounces feta cheese, (optional)

Rinse the lentils well and place in a saucepan with bay leaves, 1 bruised garlic clove, oregano and cinnamon stick. Cover with water or broth by 2 inches and a generous pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, add the sea salt and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, zest,cumin and salt in a small bowl. Toss the vinaigrette with the lentils, red bell pepper, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese if using, mint and parsley in a mixing bowl. Transfer to a large serving bowl or individual plates and serve at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA