Lentils are little tiny pearls of heaven. My husband would disagree, but he is missing out. And anyway, the more he hates stuff like lentils, pickles, olives and beans, the more I get to eat. I’m the winner in this food war.
I’ve made this lentil salad a few times, and each time I’m impressed how customizable and versatile it is. Sometimes I add a chopped tomato. Sometimes I add some feta cheese. I always, however, slice and toss in some olives, but that’s the beauty of it—if you hate olives, no worries! This dish is just as good without them–unless you’re an olive lover. Then you’ll be sad that they’re missing.
And if you’ve ever been wondering how to effectively pit some olives (or cherries), use the Cherry and Olive Pitter from OXO. This thing’s a beaut, Clark. Pushes the pit right out. My brother bought it for me as a Christmas gift, and it has helped a lot in the kitchen.
Oh, and the other day? I had the brilliant idea to place a spoonful of the lentil salad in a pita pocket with some sliced tomatoes and mozzarella. Sometimes that little light bulb over my head just turns on, and the results are astounding! I’m a winner again!
Lentil Salad with Olives
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s Lentil Salad with Olives, Mint and Feta
1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed*
Salt and pepper
6 cups water, divided
2 cups chicken broth
5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Kalamata and green olives, pitted and chopped
1 large shallot, minced
*Tip: I used green lentils, but you can use any lentil except red or yellow because they cook too fast.
Optional Add-Ins: Add a combination (or all) of the following ingredients during step 7.
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
- Place lentils, a teaspoon of salt and four cups of warm water in a medium bowl. Soak for an hour. Drain*
- Adjust oven rack to middle position, and preheat oven to 325°F.
- Place lentils, 2 cups water, chicken broth, garlic, bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium saucepan.
- Cover and bake until lentils are tender, but intact, 50-60 minutes.
- Whisk oil and vinegar together in large bowl, and set aside.
- Drain cooked lentils. Remove and discard garlic and bay leaf.
- Add lentils, olives and shallot to the oil and vinegar, then toss to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm, at room temperature or cold!
*Tip: Steps 1-2 are optional. The brine helps keep the lentils intact, but the recipe will still be delicious if they aren’t brined. If necessary, refrigerate the drained lentils up to 2 days before cooking.