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August 1, 2013

Recipe for lentil and chicken salad with raisins and feta cheese {gluten-free}

Lentils, chicken, raisins and feta: a meal in a bowl.

Lately, it's been too hot to turn on the oven or tend anything cooking on the stove. In our house, salads rule. However, not every salad begins with lettuce. This lentil and chicken salad, bumped up with chunks of crisp cucumber, sweet raisins and salty feta cheese, defines the kind of meal-in-a-bowl dishes we love, and because there's no mayonnaise, it's perfect for picnics or potluck. If your market sells pre-cooked lentils (in airtight packages, in the produce section of the store), and rotisserie chicken, this salad becomes a very easy assembly job. If you're cooking lentils and grilling a chicken breast, it's still a quick and easy summer lunch or supper. You can make the salad several hours ahead, and store in the refrigerator until it's time to serve.

Lentil and chicken salad with raisins and feta cheese.

Lentil and chicken salad with raisins and feta cheese

From the pantry, you'll need: lentils, raisins, feta cheese, chicken breast, balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 3-4.

Ingredients

1 cup brown or green lentils
2 cups roughly chopped cooked chicken (grilled, roasted, or leftover rotisserie chicken)
1 cup cubed cucumber
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
2 tsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp mild agave nectar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of fresh black pepper

Directions

In a small pot, add the lentils and 2 cups of water. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Drain, and place in a bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until chilled. (You can do this up to a day ahead, or substitute ready-to-eat cooked lentils from the grocery store.)

Add the chilled lentils to a large mixing bowl, with the chicken, cucumber, raisins, feta and parsley.

In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, agave, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing. Pour just as much as you need -- and not more -- on the lentil mixture. Stir gently to coat all of the ingredients with dressing.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Greek lentil soup with red pepper and feta
Armenian red lentils and bulgur
Vegan barley and lentil pilaf with mushrooms and spinach
Slow cooker Indian-spiced lentils
Slow cooker lentils with chicken sausage, spinach and feta cheese

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Warm green lentil salad with caramelized onions, feta cheese, and pears, from Andrea Meyers
Mediterranean wheatberry salad with lentils and chickpeas, from Food Blogga
Lentil and barley Greek-style salad with tomatoes, feta, and capers, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lentil salad with grapes and feta, from Rachel Cooks
Roasted pumpkin, lentil and feta pithivier, from Delicieux

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Comments

I love the idea of this salad. I keep hearing about lentils pre-cooked, sold in a pouch or a can, but I've never seen them sold anywhere around here. What I *should* do is use the slow cooker to cook up big batches of lentils and freeze them; then I could make this salad any time I wanted!

Kalyn, I should do that, too. I use the slow cooker to make big batches of black beans, and it's great to have them in the freezer. Trader Joe's sells the pre-cooked lentils, in the produce aisle.

This sounds like a delightful idea for a pack of pink lentils I have staring at me from the pantry. Thanks so much for the great idea!

Cary, any lentils will be great in this. Just be sure not to overcook them, so they keep a bit of their texture. Enjoy!

Just bought some fancy dried green lentils and have been looking for a recipe -- this one sounds lovely. I don't often put raisins in savory dishes, but need to more often. They always add such a nice flavor contrast. Gorgeous salad, Lydia!

Kelly, green lentils would also be delicious here. I love the way North African cuisines bring together savory ingredients with dried fruit, and that's opened the door for me to all sorts of combinations when I put salads together.

Lydia,
Mentally I'm adding chopped walnuts to this, I have no idea why. Perhaps the raisins are calling out to them?
I've successfully mastered the 'buy bags of dried chick peas, cook them, and keep them on hand for hummus' technique. Perhaps it's time to move along to lentils.
Thanks--your salad looks delicious.

yum! and I have a bag of those pre-cooked lentils in y freezer right now!!

How do you think olives would work here to stand in for the salty note from the feta? I have family members with dairy allergies but would love to make this for them as it was a huge hit with others.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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