The texture combination of lentils and fried halloumi is fantastic in this Black Lentil Greek Salad. The pesto lends an amazing flavor and the vegetables offer a fresh quality to the mix.
I have an interesting story to tell you! My mom and I traveled to Asia back when I was in my twenties. Her boyfriend at the time Hal asked her if we would like to meet him in Greece. Hell yah! Shortly after we arrived, Hal asked me if I wanted to go to Santorini to see the black sand beaches or if I would prefer to tour some ruins. I oddly chose the ruins because who wants to go to black sand beaches?!?! Ha, Ha!!! We decided to explore the Palamidi Castle in Nafplio. There is a 913 step climb to reach the castle. When we arrived, a strange feeling came over me as if I had been there before. We wandered around checking out all the rooms. The castle had extraordinary views of the city of Náfplio, rugged mountains and the Mediterranean Ocean. It was amazing!
After my visit to Greece, I flew to London to meet up with my friend Maggie. We bought a eurail pass and traveled through Europe together. When I told Maggie that I had just gone to the Palamidi Castle, her jaw dropped. She told me that she and two of our really close friends (Robby’s too) Bela and Antonia were just in Greece. She said that they also visited the Palamidi Castle just three days after I was there. She said that it was closed when they arrived so they hopped the fence (that’s my friends for you) and they had the whole place to themselves. We both kept saying jokingly, “who goes to Nafplio instead of black sand beaches?” You might think it’s a coincidence but I’d like to think we had all been there together in prior life. Sounds way cooler, don’t you think?
When I was in Greece, I ate a Greek salad every day if not twice a day. While there, I discovered that Greek salads varied based on the region. In some areas, Greek salads included oregano and others used thyme instead of oregano. Some areas would add green bell peppers and others did not and so on. In this recipe I put my own spin on the Greek salad with the addition of the lentils, halloumi and an oregano feta pesto. It’s more of a meal than a side salad.
This salad is perfect with a white wine such as a Pinot Gris, Albarino, white Rioja or Sauvignon Blanc. And for a red a Pinot Noir or a Temperino.
Black Lentil Greek Salad Recipe:
approx. 6 to 8 servings
- 1 Cup Dried Black Lentils
- 1 Cup Oregano Feta Lemon Pesto
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
- 3 Medium Tomatoes – sliced into wedges or cubed
- 1 Cucumber – peeled – deseeded – cut in half – thinly sliced
- 1/2 Small Red Onion – cut in half and thinly slice each half
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Oregano Leaves
- 4 to 8 oz. Halloumi – 1/2 inch cubes cubed (I used 8 oz.)
Oregano Feta Lemon Pesto – Approx. 1 1/2 Cups
- 1/2 Cup Sheep Feta
- 1 Cup Oregano Leaves
- 1 Cup Raw Walnuts
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Oregano Pita Chips – (optional)
- 2 or more Pita – cut into 12 wedges
- Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive OIl
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano – minced
- 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Measure the lentils and sort for any rocks then rinse. Add water to the lentils, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes or until lentils are soft, yet still firm. Strain and set aside.
While the lentils are cooking start the pesto.
Wash the oregano, dry well and pull of the leaves from the sprigs then measure. Measure all the other ingredients and put into in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
Drain the halloumi, rinse and cut it into 1/2 inch (or smaller) cubes. Dry with paper towels to avoid splattering in the pan.
Heat a tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. (I used a cast iron skillet) When the oil is hot, add the cubes of halloumi and cook for a few minutes to brown.
Flip the halloumi cubes with a spatula to brown on the other side. They don’t need to be browned on all sides, but they should be a nice golden brown.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roughly chop the oregano then cut each pita bread into quarters and each quarter into thirds to make 12 triangles. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with olive oil and salt and gently toss. Lay them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with oregano. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes or until crisp.
Mix the lentils with the pesto, vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in the cheese, cucumber, onions and oregano. Then carefully stir in the tomatoes. Serve with pita chips.
Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy. A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements. Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain. Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use. The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy. They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years