Everybody needs a few great picnic-y salads in their repertoire. I’m all for the classics, like a great potato salad, a crunchy slaw, fresh greens… you know the ones.
But I love to bring something less expected, and one I can be almost sure no one else will bring. This is one of those salads.
Lentils take really well to this quick post-boil marinade, they are soft and porous and soak up the lemon juice and herbs, flavoring them from the inside out. Tossed with creamy feta, briny capers, juicy tomatoes, and topped with crunchy walnuts they really get next level.
This is a great way to convert those anti-lentil folks, too. They won’t look at them the same way again.
Herby Marinated Lentil Salad
1 ½ cups dried green lentils
2 dried bay leaves
½ cup feta, broken up into chunks
1 medium zucchini, sliced in rounds then half moons
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
¾ cup fresh herbs – I particularly like parsley, mint, and basil
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed
Zest and juice from one lemon
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, cover lentils and bay leaves with water by a few inches. Allow to come to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and allow to cook until tender, about 20 minutes or so. They should be tender and still holding their shape.
When lentils are done, drain well in a colander, discarding the bay leaf. Return the lentils to the pan. Immediately fold in capers, zucchini, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, a large pinch of salt, half of the herbs, and about half of the olive oil. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Toss in the feta, walnuts, remaining herbs and remaining oil as needed and stir together. Finish with a few cracks of pepper.
Serve at room temperature, or store in fridge until ready to eat and allow to come back to room temp before serving.