For centuries, lentils have been the sustenance of working populations around the world. Like any legume, they are a good source of fiber and protein and also contain high amounts of calcium and vitamins A and B. They come in a variety of shapes and colors, have the second-highest ratio of protein per calorie of any legume after soybeans; and as a result, are a great substitute for meat.
If a food was ever the pinnacle of sustainability, it would be these tiny spheres, as they are self-pollinating, have a long shelf life (once in their dried form), and are easy to rehydrate and cook. In today’s Meatless Monday post we are taking lentils back to their Greek origins, as a filling for pita pockets along with locally grown tomatoes, lettuce and fresh herbs; topped with feta cheese from Catapano Farms and myriad of Mediterranean condiments. Once you try this recipe, you will agree that lentils are not just the food of the people, but the food of the Gods.
1 cup dried lentils
1/2 onion, minced
2 3/4 cups (for cooking lentils) plus 6 tablespoons water for dressing
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
1 peeled and chopped cucumber
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
The leaves of 4 to 5 sprigs of Greek oregano, chopped and additional sprigs for garnish
Heat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, the 2 3/4 cups water, 1 tbsp of oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil; simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Stir and continue cooking, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until they are done, about 12 more minutes as it is important that they not be al dente nor mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a separate pan, sauté 1 clove of garlic and one minced jalapeno (deveined, de-seeded) with two tablespoons of olive oil for no more than 2 minutes. Pour the olive oil mixture into the lentils and stir. Add additional salt to taste, and let sit-partially covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
For the sauce, whisk together the tahini.
Cut the pitas in 1/2, first place the lettuce into the pocket, followed by the lentil mixture, tomatoes and lastly the cheese and the dressing and chopped fresh Greek oregano.