Probably many of you are better than I about using cucumber on a regular basis. Outside of a green smoothie, gazpacho, a quick pickle, or the occasional tzatziki sauce, for whatever reason cucumber is not usually the first vegetable I think to put on my shopping list. That is, with the exception of when I make this lentil salad.
This is a refreshing summer salad staple that I love to make peak summer to showcase sweet, juicy tomatoes and crisp, hydrating cucumber. There's something magical about the simple combination of cucumber, tomato, and red onion, which is loved the world over; think Italian panzanella, Greek salad, and the many variations seen in Turkish, Persian, and Israeli chopped salads. And when this trio gets a quick soak in a lemony za'atar dressing that is then tossed with lentils, well, I'll always be in the mood to dig in, no matter how hot it is. Hope you will be too!
Middle Eastern Lentil Salad
Notes: Sumac adds an additional pleasant tartness, but it can be left out if it's hard to find. The salad will still be delicious.
- 1 1/2 cups / 298 gr green lentils
- 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from 1 large, juicy lemon
- 2 tsp za'atar
- 1 tsp. sumac
- 1/2 tsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1/2 of long English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups / 250 gr cherry tomatoes, halved
- Handful fresh cilantro, chopped (parsley, cilantro, dill, or a combination work well here)
- Cook lentils according to package directions. If pre-soaked they will cook in 8-10 minutes.
- In the meantime, in the bottom of a large mixing bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, za'atar, sumac, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Add sliced onion, cucumber, and tomatoes to the dressing. Stir to coat and set aside to marinate while lentils finish cooking.
- Rinse and drain cooked lentils, and add to the bowl immediately while still warm so they soak up the flavors. Add chopped herbs and toss gently to combine. Season with extra salt and pepper, as needed.
- Serve immediately or at room temperature. Leftovers store well in the fridge for 2-3 days.