Shasta Lentil & Cucumber Salad

Shasta Lentil & Cucumber Salad
Created By: Chef Michael Natkin, Herbivoracious
Use: Shasta Yellow Lentils, Sunrise Red Lentils
Yields: A big "potluck-sized bowl"
Vegan, Kid-approved

Shasta Lentil & Cucumber Salad (Perfect for potlucks)*
Recipe and photo courtesy of Chef Michael Natkin, Herbivoracious

This salad is great to have in your back pocket for summer potlucks and picnics. It's easy to make, light and healthy and packed with flavor that adults will love, but manageable for kids too. Go ahead and substitute Sunrise red lentils for the Shasta yellow lentils, or use a mix of both. They both taste great in this refreshing salad.

*This recipe makes a big potluck-sized bowl; cut in half for regular "family" use

Ingredients:

2 English Cucumbers

1 lb. Shasta yellow or Sunrise red lentils, rinsed and sorted. Remove any non-lentil material before cooking.

Kosher salt

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Handful of fresh dill (reserve a bit for garnish & mince the rest)

Handful of fresh mint (reserve a bit for garnish & mince the rest)

Instructions:

Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Cut into half-moons about 1/3″ thick.

Toss with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and place in a colander over a bowl to drain for about 30 minutes. If you are motivated, find some way to weight them for even better results. When they are nice and translucent and lots of water has collected, rinse the slices and then pat them dry.

Meanwhile, sort through the lentils and discard any non-lenticular matter. Rinse in several changes of water.

Put in a medium pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse in several changes of cold water to stop the cooking.

Combine the cooled lentils, cucumbers, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of salt, dill and mint in a large bowl and toss.

Taste and adjust seasoning. It may need more salt or lemon juice. Look for that moment when the flavors start to “sing” a little, not just sit there meekly on your palate.

If you are serving more than an hour or so later, refrigerate and hold off on the herbs and final flavor adjustment until close to serving time.

Garnish with the remaining herbs.

Note: In this kind of salad, cucumbers tend to leak a lot of juice, dilute the dressing, and make a watery mess. Salting and draining the cucumbers for 30 minutes or so solves this problem, and gives them a nice flavor and texture. If you make it a day in advance, you'll still want to re-toss it and check to see if you need to drain off a bit of liquid. I would wait until the day you are serving it to add the herbs, as well.

For more delicious recipes from Chef Michael Natkin, visit Herbivoracious