In the rush and tumble of summer, I somehow forgot about this lentil salad entirely. The photos have been sitting on my desktop, waiting patiently for me to come back to them.
Lentils are just that kind of food. They aren’t flashy and demanding with a short season or shelf life like berries. No, lentils are confident in their nutritional qualities and in their ability to take on any flavor, and can sit back with their feet up, waiting for you to remember their existence.
In the brief lull between blueberries and raspberries this week, I came out of my must-preserve-everything-now mindset and settled down to sort through my recipe notebooks, where I came across this salad. I first made it at the beginning of June, when zucchinis were just starting to pop up at the farmers’ market, when they were still a novelty after months of root vegetables and salad greens.
Now, of course, we can’t eat them quickly enough. So go ahead and make this salad; the lentils have been waiting for you.
This lentil and zucchini salad is excellent when topped with your choice of pesto (I used garlic scape, but basil or arugula would be great as well) and crumbled queso fresco. If you don't have queso fresco, try substituting feta or grated Parmesan.
- 3/4 cups fresh herb stalks, a mixture of rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage
- 1 1/2 cups black lentils
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large zucchini, chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground chili power
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pesto, for serving
- Queso fresco, for serving
- Tie the herbs together with cooking twine. Your bundle should be about 1" in diameter.
- Cover the lentils and the herbs with the water in a medium stockpot. Simmer the lentils over medium heat until most of the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini and mix with a wooden spoon to coat with the hot oil. Season with the cumin and chili powder. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is softened, about 8 minutes.
- Fish the herbs out of the pot of lentils, and toss the lentils with the cooked zucchini. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Dish the lentils into bowls and top with pesto and crumbled feta cheese.