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Lentil Salad with olives, mint and feta

The healthy eating campaign continues and everyone knows how great lentils are for you (low in calories, high in protein and fiber) so when I saw this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen, I wanted to try their cooking method.

You soak the lentils in warm water for an hour, drain them and them bake them in the oven with water, broth, garlic, salt and a bay leaf for another hour. Drain them again and now you have lentils to use for this salad, or any other recipe. The lentils are firm and nutty, a definitely an improvement over mushy and mealy texture some recipes result in.

I made a double batch and made this salad with half and ate the other half plain with a little olive oil and salt. I really enjoyed the Mediterranean flavors of the sharp feta, briny olives and the tang of vinegar.

Lentil Salad with Olives, Mint, and Feta
From America's Test Kitchen episode: Pork Chops and Lentil Salad.
Serves 4 to 6

French green lentils, or Lentilles du Puy, are our preferred choice for this recipe, but it works with any type of lentil except red or yellow. Brining helps keep the lentils intact, but if you don't have time, they'll still taste good. The salad can be served warm or at room temperature.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  Salt and pepper
6 cups water
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 large shallot, minced
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled (1/4 cup)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place lentils and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. Cover with 4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees) and soak for 1 hour. Drain well. (Drained lentils can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking.)

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place drained lentils, 2 cups water, broth, garlic, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon salt in medium saucepan. Cover and bake until lentils are tender but remain intact, 40 to 60 minutes. Mean-while, whisk oil and vinegar together in large bowl.

3. Drain lentils well; remove and discard garlic and bay leaf. Add drained lentils, olives, mint, and shallot to dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with feta, and serve.

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