Let's be honest, shall we?
I don't really like green lentils. I'm not sure why-maybe it's the soup I've made before with them that seemed tasteless and horrible, or the fact that their texture was always a little weird to me, but I just never have liked them. Red lentils are fine in curry to thicken, but that's as far as it goes. So it seems a little weird that out of the blue I decided to make this salad, but I was trying to use up some of the ingredients in my cupboards and fridge, plus the photo in the cookbook looked amazing, so I thought I'd give it a go.
Have you done that before? Cooked something solely because the photo of it made it look delicious? I have. Once I made liver from a magazine because the photo looked amazing, and I completely ignored that it was..well.. LIVER. It tasted disgusting, as liver does, and was the one time I refused to eat my own cooking, excused 4 year old Kevin, and made us sandwiches.
I digress! Back to this tasty lentil salad!
So, the salad. It was really, very good. The barley and lentils give it a nice nutty, grainy taste, and the salty feta with tomatoes and spinach really add to it. Kevin had three helpings and we we still had enough to put in our lunches tomorrow. It would be really great alongside some grilled chicken seasoned with oregano, garlic, and lemon and a green salad for a little more veggie crunch. I would enjoy it just as a light lunch. You can do what you want with it-I ended up adding more feta because I'm a cheese lover, and then I bumped up the veggies too. You can change things up however you wish. I used only about half of the dressing, since we are a family that doesn't like too much dressing on anything. You can judge this for yourself, and use the leftover dressing on a nice green salad later in the week.
1/2 cup dry green lentils
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 garlic clove, peeled
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 packed cup of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 of a small red onion, chopped finely
fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp grainy mustard, or dijon
1 tsp honey
In a medium saucepan, stir the lentils, garlic, and barley together, then cover with a few inches of water. Turn the heat to medium and bring it to a boil, then let it simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, checking now and then and adding a little more water if you need to. The barley and lentils should be tender with a teeny bit of bite, with barely any water left. Spread them out in a dish and let them cool. Remove the garlic clove and throw it away-or you could just chop it up and throw it in the salad, which is what I did.
Once the lentils and barley are cool, toss them in a medium sized bowl with the cherry tomatoes, spinach, cheese, and onion. Sprinkle with pepper and toss.
To make the dressing, measure the ingredients in a jam jar with a tight fitting lid, and give it a shake until it thickens and is well mixed.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well. We only used a small amount of dressing since that is how we roll, but you can use more if you wish. The leftover dressing would be great drizzled on a tossed green salad and will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Spilling the Beans