I bet you didn’t know we were asked to join the Brown Bag Challenge over at the Food Network?  Well, we have been, and unfortunately, I have been so busy that I have not had a chance to write about it.  It has been crazy over at the Chez Us household for the past month, in fact, completely non-stop.  Despite the crazy, we have tried to bring healthy lunches into the office.  I usually make enough dinner the night before, to turn some leftovers into lunch.  It is really simple when you have a little left over roasted chicken, to whip up some chicken salad the night before and then pack it in the morning along with some crackers, cheese, and fresh fruit.  As well I like packing salads made with spinach, pears, and a little blue cheese;  light but filling.  I find if there is a little protein mixed with a lot of fresh fruit or vegetables it holds us over until dinner.

 

One of my favorite recipes to whip up is this amazing lentil salad.  Lentils are a great source of protein and are very filling, making this the perfect lunchtime meal.  It is full of summertime cherry tomatoes, fresh mint, and tangy feta.  I usually make a citrus dressing out of lemons and olive oil, but decided to change it up a bit after reading about Za’atar.  Za’atar is a popular spice used throughout the middle east.  It is a blend of oregano, basil, thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt.  From the research I have been doing, I have found there are different versions made with different herbs.  The particular one I found had a bit of tangy taste, which I contribute to the lemony sumac.  I did add a bit more sumac and I really enjoyed the lemony tang with the feta.  This is a very refreshing salad that is bursting with flavors.

To make this salad a complete meal, I packed our lunch bags with some homemade hummus, lavash, and fresh plums. Not only was it a filling lunch but also a healthy one.  This recipe is also a crowd pleaser for a brunch or dinner.  It is perfect served alongside some grilled fish or even roasted chicken.

Do you bring lunch to work?  What is your favorite lunch to bring alongside your business files?

 

Recipe:  Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups green lentils, cooked
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • mint, handful, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon zaatar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • kosher salt, to taste

How To:

Wash the lentils and remove any small pebbles that may be mixed along side them.

Put the lentils into a large saucepan and cover with cold water.

Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat;  turn down the heat and let simmer for 25 minutes.

You want the lentils to still be a bit firm, not overly soft.

While the lentils are cooking, mince the red onion and let it sit in a cup of cold water;  this removes any bitter bite.

I let the onion sit for 20 minutes;  then drain out the water and wrap the onion pieces in a paper towel to remove any moisture.

In a small jar add the olive oil, lemon juice, za’atar, and sumac.

Shake until blended.  Season with salt, to taste.

Once the lentils are cooked, drain them, and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Lay the lentils on a few paper towels and let them dry really well;  about 30 minutes.

A few minutes before your planned serving time, put the lentils in a serving bowl, add the onion, tomatoes, and mint;  lightly toss with the dressing and then sprinkle with the feta.

Serve.

Eat.

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