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.

Green Olive, Cauliflower, Chickpea Couscous

lettuceThis weekend I took Asher to Pickles Playroom to enjoy the madness of too many unsupervised children barreling over each other as disinterested parents and disgruntled nannies looked on from the nearby cafe. Pickles recently reorganized their space, and apparently they believe that removing the parent seating from inside the play area was actually a stroke of genius. I, along with maybe two other mothers, actually ran after our kids and played Let’s Cook Dinner in the Fake Kitchen or Time to Answer the Phone at the Office while the other children yanked trains from each others arms in tears while rubbing their drooling noses. When it was lunch time, I ate an over-priced and poorly prepared Greek salad from their cafe and Asher chomped on a grilled cheese sandwich with plastic – I mean Kraft. And that’s when it happened. Asher reached over, picked up a piece of lettuce, gave me a sly smile, declared he was going to eat my salad and then did it. He ate my salad. I was speechless. I was proud. And I thought, well that’s motivation to keep cooking.

green olive cauliflower couscousAnd so today I share a recipe for a really delicious and intriguing dish – Green Olive, Cauliflower, Chickpea Couscous. It’s salty olives mixed with the sweet roasted cauliflower and bitter chopped parsley make it a delightful dish either on it’s own or as a side.

GREEN OLIVE, CAULIFLOWER, CHICKPEA COUSCOUS
1 cup Isreali couscous, uncooked
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
20 green pimento olives, sliced into thirds
1 cup roughly chopped parsley
1 head cauliflower
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut cauliflower head into quarters and then separate the florets into smaller pieces with a large knife. Toss cauliflower florets with salt and olive oil and bake on baking sheet for 20 minutes. 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. Add sliced green olives, parsley, garbanzo beans, and lemon juice to the couscous. When cauliflower has browned remove from oven and mix into the couscous mixture. A vegan feast!