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
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
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.
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
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