|A wonderful meatless barley and lentil salad to welcome spring!|
I bet I'm not the only salad-obsessed person who starts thinking about new salad combinations as soon as the weather gets warmer. It's no secret that I love salads of every type, but I think grain and bean salads are especially nice in spring, when it's not really hot weather but you're getting in the mood for lighter meals. I loved the idea of a salad combining barley and lentils, and it worked perfectly with the tomatoes, Feta, capers, and a Greek-style vinaigrette for a lovely meatless salad. There are many types of lentils, and you can probably use any green or brown lentils here, but I used lentils du puy, a green lentil from France that holds its shape well in a salad.
My recipe is adapted from one I found in Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday. When I spotted this book at Costco, I had to buy it because one of the co-authors is my blogging friend Julie Van Rosendaal (from Dinner with Julie) and it was exciting to see a book in Costco with her name on it! There are so many food bloggers writing cookbooks these days that I realized long ago I could not talk about most of them, but Julie's book is so well aligned with my personal way of eating that I've now got post-its marking page after page in the book, and this book is one I am happy to recommend. (Blogger disclosure: If you can't find the book at Costco, you can follow the link above and buy it from Amazon.com, in which case Kalyn's Kitchen does earn a few cents on the dollar, so thanks!)
Of course this lovely salad is my Meatless Monday post for the coming Monday. (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch. For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.)
The book said you could cook the barley and green lentils together, but since I was using lentils du puy that had been in my pantry for a while, I decided to keep them separate. (I did take Julie's advice and cooked double the barley and lentils so I'd have some for the freezer, so double the amount given in the recipe if you want to do that.)
I should have used bigger pans because I had to add water a few times, but it worked out.
My older lentils took 55 minutes, but if you had fresh lentils from the store I'm guessing it would have worked well to cook them together with the barley.
I combined half the lentils in a bowl as the base of the salad and let them cool for about 20 minutes. (I froze the rest in two separate containers so I can easily make the salad another time.)
For the dressing, mix together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Greek seasoning, and minced garlic, and then whisk in the olive oil a little at a time.
Then stir in enough dressing so the barley and lentils are well-moistened. (I didn't use all the dressing but I saved it to add to the salad after it had been refrigerated.)
Gently stir in the tomatoes, feta, and capers and serve salad. (I normally never refrigerate tomatoes, but this was still very good even after being refrigerated overnight. You could also mix tomatoes into just the part you were eating right away and add tomatoes later to the refrigerated salad.)
(Makes about 6 servings; recipe adapted from Lentil and Barley Salad in Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday.)
1/2 cup small green or brown lentils (I used French lentils du puy, but any green or brown lentil will work.)
1/2 cup pearl barley
(You might want to cook twice the amount of lentils and barley and freeze the extra so you can make the salad again.)
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 T capers (or less if you are not a fan of capers; could also use Kalamata olives sliced in half.)
3 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Greek seasoning (I used The Spice House Greektown Seasoning; Greek seasoning has garlic, dried lemon, oregano, salt and pepper.)
1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the lentils and barley with the garlic slices and water to cover by a couple of inches, and cook until they are tender. (If your lentils are fairly fresh you can cook them with the barley, for about 45 minutes total cooking time. If your lentils have been in the pantry a while I'd probably cook the barley and lentils separately, because lentils take much longer to cook when they are older.)
While lentils and barley are cooking, dice tomatoes or cut the cherry tomatoes in half, thinly slice the green onions, crumble the Feta, and measure out the capers. Mix together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Greek seasoning, and minced garlic and then whisk in the olive oil a little at a time to make the dressing.
When lentils and barley are tender, drain them well, discarding the garlic, and then combine in a bowl large enough to fit all the salad ingredients. Let lentils and barley cool for about 20 minutes, then stir in enough dressing so they're well moistened. (You won't need all the dressing, but save the extra to re-moisten the salad after it's been refrigerated or to use on a green salad.) Add the diced tomatoes, green onions, feta, and capers and gently combine. Serve salad slightly warm or at room temperature.
I usually never refrigerate tomatoes, but this salad was still very good after it had been refrigerated. Let salad come to room temperature and re-moisten with the leftover dressing after refrigerating if desired. (Next time I might just add tomatoes to the part I was going to eat and add the tomatoes to the leftover salad as I ate it.)
South Beach Suggestions:
Lentils and barley are both the type of low-glycemic ingredients that the South Beach Diet recommends, and this salad is a great choice for Phase 2 or 3 of the diet.
More Meatless Salads with Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Lebanese Lentil Salad with Garlic, Cumin, Mint, and Parsley from Kalyn's Kitchen
Black Bean and Lentil Salad with Red Bell Pepper, Cumin, and Cilantro from Kalyn's Kitchen
French Green Lentil Salad from David Lebovitz
Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad from Kath Eats Real Food
Warm Green Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions, Feta Cheese, and Pears from Andrea Meyers
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)