Greek Lentil Taverna Salad

asher and everett This week we reached a major feeding milestone when Everett nonchalantly picked up a Cheerio from my hand, popped it into his mouth, chewed, and swallowed. No choking. No gagging. Then he reached for another, and angrily slapped my hand away when I tried to put one into his mouth without giving him the chance to practice his fine motor skills. He has only just recently started snacking on the Gerber puff snacks which all but melt in your mouth so this came as a bit of a shock to me. I can’t believe our 9 month old is already self-feeding!

I have been racking my brain thinking of all the crazy baby recipes I used to make for Asher. Which reminded me of how he absolutely LOVED pureed lentils as an infant. Even to this day, I can pop open a can of Progresso lentil soup on a no-cooking day of desperation and he will gobble the contents of the can without even cooking it. Can I admit that to the world? I guess I just did.

lentils So today’s recipe is for an oustanding Greek Lentil Taverna Salad which did amazingly well in the fridge for a few days. It really could not be easier, and cost around $12 for 6 huge portions. Needless to say, Asher loved the lentils.

GREEK LENTIL TAVERNA SALAD
1 English cucumber, chopped into half moons
4 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped into large pieces
1 red onion, sliced into slivers
1 package of crumbled feta (traditional flavor)
1 bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 cups of lentils
2 packages of cremini mushrooms, sliced into quarters
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, diced

DRESSING
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a sauce pot, boil 5 cups of water. Add lentils then let simmer for 20 minutes. When lentils are done, immedialty drain in collander and set aside to cool. In a frying pan, add olive oil and diced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Then add mushrooms and sautee for 7-9 minutes until the mushrooms have a nice brown color. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooled lentils with the mushroom mixture then add the salad dressing ingredients and let marinate for 10 minutes in refrigerator. Meanwhile, add fresh salad ingredients in a large salad bowl. When you are ready to serve, scoop a heaping portion of taverna salad with 1/2 cup lentils as a topping. The flavors from the lentils will act as a dressing for the salad, but you can add additional red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper if needed. This can be made vegan without the feta, you will just need a tad more salt to bring out the flavors.

Greek Israeli Couscous

greek couscous One of my biggest challenges in the kitchen is preparing easy, healthy lunches on the weekend that can be kept in the fridge for a few days without tasting like Saturday’s leftovers. This week, I found myself hooked on Israeli couscous. Mostly because it was on sale for $3.99, but also because of it’s hearty texture and ability to soak up any flavor while marinating in the fridge. I combined it with a Greek taverna salad and three days later it still tasted delicious! And as a nice little perk, I used some of these purchased ingredients to make healthy toddler snacks without having to blow my grocery budget! Asher particularly loves black olives and grape tomatoes. Love when my grown-up meals can double as toddler food!

GREEK ISRAELI COUSCOUS SALAD

1 cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
1 persian cucumber, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
3 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly into moonshapes
1 pint of grape tomates,sliced in half
1/2 cup of feta cheese with mediterranean herbs
1 can of sliced black olives
1 cup whole pepperoncinis

Dressing:
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons vinegar from pepperoncini jar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Boil 1 1/3 cup water in small pot. Add Israeli couscous and turn down to simmer with lid on for 8-10 minutes. Fluff with fork and remove from heat to cool. Chop and prep your vegetables. Add cooled couscous and salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing. Let marinate in refrigerator at least one hour. Should be served room temperature or cold. This dish can easily be made vegan without the feta cheese.