We are entering that stretch of the summer where school is looming on the horizon and all those things we meant to do this summer are quickly getting squeezed in (or set aside for "some day"). Ana's classes begin next week and a lot of Hallie's friends have already left to go back to school. It just feels...well, different. Not bad, not good - just different.
I mentioned before that we received lemon cucumbers in our CSA share last week - this salad is where I used them, along with the cherry tomatoes and red onion from our share. When I got home from picking up the share that day everyone was starving so I need something that could go together quickly. Hallie and I had just been to the gym so we were looking to have something healthy and not too heavy. I always have lentils on hand so I decided to throw together a quick lentil salad. Lentils are great because they don't require any soaking, they cook quickly, they're cheap, they're good for you and so on....while they cooked I did the chopping of the other ingredients and prepared some fruit to go along side.
Lentil Salad with Tomato, Cucumber and Feta
1 lb lentils, picked over and rinsed well
1 lb cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Cook lentils according to package directions (mine said 3 cups water to 1 lb lentils - I actually ended up needing a little more). Cook until tender but not mushy - you want them to hold their shape. Mine took about 25 minutes. While lentils are cooking prepare your vegetables and add them to a large salad bowl. Once lentils are cooked drain any excess water you might have. If you are planning on serving the salad right away you'll want to cool the lentils. I spread them out on a large cookie sheet and sprinkled them liberally with white wine vinegar and some sea salt and place them into the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Once the lentils have cooled add them to the salad bowl and toss with the vegetables. Then add the feta cheese and toss until combined. At this point it's a matter of taste and adding more vinegar, salt and pepper until it suits you. I usually use champagne vinegar for this kind of salad but I really don't like the last one I bought - I got it at Berkeley Bowl (and paid a lot more than I usually do - it looked like a nice bottle) but just plain don't like it. So the white wine vinegar was just right. It certainly wouldn't hurt to drizzle some olive oil or add some fresh mint or basil to this salad. But again, the cheese adds enough flavor that I don't think it needs any oil. We enjoyed this for dinner and it was great leftover for lunch the next day.
It hasn't been very hot recently so I hope that our garden is getting enough sun! We got kind of a late start because of some drainage and landscaping work that we did (and by "we" I mean the very nice people we hired to do it). We typically have hot weather through October so I'm hoping that everything will catch up and be happy. The usual suspects are growing like crazy:
The hardest part is keeping the grape vine from growing into the fig tree (and the roof). It makes for a lovely green canopy in the yard but it is a tangled mess when it comes time to prune!