Lentil Salad, a Popular Health-Power Lebanese Dish!
Lebanese Lentil Salad is a vegetarian dish cooked with garlic and olive oil and deliciously enhanced with lemon juice. Super healthy, it is a good contributor to our need of fiber, protein, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C and Iron, among other health benefits.
“Give them lentil salad!” was our family doctor’s favorite prescription.
That if he wasn’t prescribing Lentil Soup. We heard it countless of times, growing up, that my siblings and I learned to say it teasingly every time any of us got sick. Yet, our good family doctor was not wrong. Lentils are always a good boost of Iron in our blood. They are also rich in fiber and protein.
A small handful of lentils can easily provide you with the same quantity of protein as a piece of steak.
For centuries, Lentils were mostly a food of the peasants in Lebanon, along with the wheat. No wonder our patriot peasants were known for their strong build, upbeat energy and healthy looking faces. Their intake of food was the healthy production of their lands. Historically, it is these strong peasants that changed our political history…
Most of our healthy cultural food originated from the villages. Lentil dishes are some of the long list, lentils being components of various Lebanese food.
To name a few, we have the Lentil Soup with pasta, known as Richta in the North of Lebanon, the Lemon Lentil Soup with green leaves, the Mjadra and more.
Traditionally, lentil dishes, specially the Mjadra, reign on the family lunch table on Fridays of almost all Christian families. It is part of their Friday no-meat fasting tradition.
Serving the Lebanese Lentil Salad
Lebanese Lentil Salad could be served with Loubieh bil zeit (Vegetarian Green beans) or any such dishes that are not heavy.
It is served as main dish during the Lent season preceding Easter. It is then accompanied by vegetable soup and a rich Fattoush salad or any vegetarian dish.
- 1 cup Brown Lentils washed in cold water
- 2 tbsps Olive Oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsps Olive oil for cooking
- 3 cloves Garlic very finely minced
- 4 tbsps Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 cup Fresh Parsley finely chopped
- 1/4 cup Fresh Mint finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1/4 tsp Ground Allspice or Lebanese 7-Spices
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1/2 Lemon in slices for decoration
Boil lentils in small pan with 3 cups water. Simmer gently until lentils are tender. This should take around 25-30 minutes.
Heat the 2 tbsps of olive oil in small frying pan, add the minced garlic, and saute over very low heat until garlic is very fragrant but barely starting to get some color (7-8 min.) Turn off heat.
Whisk together lemon juice, 2 Tsp. of olive oil, cumin and allspice.
When lentils are tender, drain well and return to the pan.
Turn heat back on under pan with the garlic, add lemon juice dressing mixture, and heat about 1 min.
Pour heated dressing over the lentils.
Gently stir to combine until lentils are well-coated.
Stir in fresh herbs, then season well with salt and black pepper.
Add some fresh squeezed lemon juice to brighten up the flavor.
Cut the lemon in half slices and decorate the sides of the plate with them.
Serve at room temperature or warm.
For a refreshing taste:
You may add 1 tomato, cut in dices and mix with the lentils just before seasoning.
In this case, I usually cut in cubes an extra tomato of smaller size to decorate the top of the dish.