lentil-and-chickpea-salad-with-feta-and-tahini Recipes

lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini

I have an uneven history with chef cookbooks. I have learned the hard way more often than I’ve wished to that just because I might enjoy sitting down at someone’s restaurant table does not mean that their work will translate into an enjoyable home cooking experience — you know, one without sous-chefs and dishwashers, plural, at ones disposal, and a customer base footing the bill for the Himalayan pink salt. The best of these books make for wonderful reading and bring the fresh air of a new flavors and tricks into your home cooking routine but the worst, well, yikes. You’re not getting those hours back.

onion, tahini, lentils, chickpeas, spice, lemon, sage, garlic
cooking lentils de puy with sage, garlic

So, despite the fact that I gushed about The Breslin nearly a year ago and also in an interview for Amazon, and even though I’ve fussed over The Spotted Pig, I didn’t even consider picking up chef April Bloomfield’s* book, A Girl and Her Pig because the odds felt slim that it would provide me with anything close to the joy that her cooking does at a dark table in the Ace Hotel, with a grapefruit gin-and-tonic (swoon) in my hand.

toasting corriander and cumin seeds

goya chickpeas, you complete me
toasted sesame seeds, tahini dressing, toasted ground spices

And then her book swept mine in the final round of a cookbook competition and I knew from reading the gushing praise bestowed on it by an entire series of independent reviewers that I was the one missing out. When I bought the book last week, I immediately ran off to the back room to hide with it for a while and proceeded to fall deeply, immensely in love. Bloomfield might be known for her nose-to-tail cookery but time and again, it’s her way with vegetables and one-off dishes that blow me away. From the earliest pages, she taunts you with Squash and Pancetta Toasts, Toasts with Ramp Butter and Fried Quail Eggs, a stack of lacy-thin crepe pancakes with Bacon and Chilis, a spring vegetable soup with everything from Jersualem Artichokes to white beans and vinegary Devilled Eggs. It doesn’t hurt that her go-to favorite ingredients seem to overlap with mine (lemon, feta, garlic, cumin, sesame, and flaky sea salt) but it makes it even more fun that she had me, within a day, reaching outside my comfort zone trying to track down rice grain-sized dried pequin chilies in New York, pulling the green germs out of the center of garlic cloves and pulling down my dusty, mostly ignored, coffee grinder so that I could find out why she gushed so much about the flavor of freshly toasted and ground spices.

red onion with lemon juice, salt, and soon, feta
mixing the lentils, chickpeas and dressing

I realize at the outset the prospect of a lentil and chickpea salad doesn’t sound very intriguing. It sounds like the kind of thing you’d eat because you ought to, and “ought to’s” rarely make for delicious eating. But she uses a series of techniques to make these humble ingredients one of the most intense and complexly flavored salad experiences I’ve ever made at home. Thank goodness.

lentil and chickpea salad

Making the salad might seem pesky. You toast whole spices and grind them. The onions have one treatment, the lentils another, the dressing a third and I seriously read the plating instructions four times (given, I had a yelling three year-old nearby, but hey, that’s real life innit?) and I still couldn’t make sense of why it had to be so complicated. And while this is usually the point where I say, “I simplified it for you! You’ll make it in less time than I did!” we hadn’t even finished our first bite before I realized I didn’t want to. I’ll suggest places here and there where corners can be cut without taking away from the recipe’s central awesomeness, but I also think that if you can find a little extra time to putter in the kitchen, you’ll find brilliance in the way she wrote it. And that, really, is the fun of trying new recipes, right?

lentil and chickpea salad

* I have a favor to ask: On the cover of her book, April Bloomfield stands with a dead pig slung across her shoulders. I realize that this isn’t for everyone. Not everyone eats meat, those who do may not eat pork products, and even those who do may not want to see their food staring back at them. But whenever I’ve read a review of or discussion about her book, inevitably, a slew of comments will say “Eeeewwww!” and — it shouldn’t, I should just tune it out, move on with my life — it drives me batty. Please keep in mind that Bloomfield hails from the nose-to-tail cooking school; she works with animals that were as humanely raised as possible and uses every part. She gives the animals she cooks the most respect a chef can, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling that it’s still not for you — nobody is saying that you must find great joy in looking at dead animals, or that you have to look at all — but yelling “icky!” at someone who eats or cooks something you don’t like is never going to be the way to begin a grown-up conversation about things that matter. Trust me. I have a three year-old; I know about these things.

One year ago: Raspberry-Coconut Macaroons
Two years ago: Spaetzle
Three years ago: Baked Kale Chips and Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting
Four years ago: Beef Empanadas, Homemade Chocolate Wafers + Icebok Cupcakes and Bialys
Five years ago: Chicken with Almonds and Green Olives and Swiss Easter Rice Tart
Six years ago: Risotto al Barolo, Rich Buttermilk Waffles and Argula Ravioli

Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini
Tweaked, just a bit, from April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig

I promised to list places where I felt the recipe could be streamlined. For example, I don’t think that a tremdendous amount will be lost if you don’t cook your lentils with garlic cloves and sage. (Though, they tasted and smelled amazing when I did.) You could use spices already ground; I’d use 1/3 to 1/2 of each if so. (But, my heavens, they were bursting with flavor when I started whole.) You could probably press your garlic clove rather than mashing it to a paste with salt in a mortar or on a cutting board. I simplified the assembly process a little and actually skipped the preserved lemon because neither my husband nor I are very into them, and hey, we’re the ones eating the dish. I used sheep’s milk feta instead of goat, because that’s what I usually have around (Bulgarian and French are my favorite types, if you can find either). And I used parsley instead of cilantro.

But, I can also promise this: Should you feel like spending a little bit of extra time in the kitchen this week, there’s so much to absorb here, from the amazing background sage, garlic and olive oil infuse tiny green lentils with, from the roasty depth of pan-toasted, finely ground spices, the sweet nuttiness of sesame seeds, toasted two shades darker, to almost pickling red onion slices with lemon juice. This salad, made as written, was more layered and complex than I ever imagined a legume salad being, and it made my week.

Lentils
Scant 1 cup dried green lentils (Puy or Casteluccio, if you can find them) lentils, picked and rinsed over
2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 fresh sage sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the dressing and salad
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground**
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground**
1/2 large garlic clove
Salt (Maldon or another flaky sea salt if you’ve got it)
2 tablespoons well-stirred tahini paste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 and 3/4 cups drained chickpeas (from a 15-ounce can), low sodium if you can find them
1/2 small preserved lemon, pith and flesh discarded, rind finely diced (optional)
1 very small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
A handful of small, delicate cilantro or flat-leaf parsley sprigs
A scant 1/4 cup feta (goat’s milk if you can find it, otherwise use what you can get)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan until a shade or two darker

Make the lentils: Put the lentils, garlic, sage, and olive oil in a small pot, along with 2 cups cold water, and set it over medium heat. Let the water come to a simmer (not boiling), then turn the heat to low and cook the lentils in a very gentle simmer just until they are tender — April recommends 25 minutes, but mine took 35 and needed a touch more water at the end. Take the pan off the heat and let the lentils cool a bit before draining them. Pick out and discard the sage and garlic. You’ll have about 2 cups cooked lentils.

Make the dressing: Mix together the ground coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Mash the garlic clove to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) on a cutting board or in a mortar. In a small bowl for your dressing, combined the mashed garlic, tahini, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the ground coriander-and-cumin mixture and 2 tablespoons water. Stir well, then taste. Add more lemon if desired.

Assemble the salad: Place onion slices in a medium bowl and break them up with your fingers. Sprinkle in two good pinches of salt, then two teaspoons of lemon juice, two remaining teaspoons of olive oil and the cilantro or parsley. Toss well, then crumble in the cheese and gently toss again.

Toss the lentils with the drained chickpeas, preserved lemon rind (if using), and 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the tahini dressing and toss it all together really well, then stir in the onion-feta mixture.

Arrange the salad in bowl or platter. Sprinkle the mixture with the sesame seeds and some of the remaining spices. Serve, and don’t forget to share.

P.S. We had this with a Simple Potato Gratin (a post I’m itching to update even more simply, and less hideously, but the important stuff is there) and lamb chops (may I recommend these?).

** To toast and grind spices: Put the spices, one at a time, in a small dry pan over medium-high heat. Toast, shaking the pan frequently, until the spices become very sweet and fragrant, anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. Let them cool in a bowl or on a small plate and grind in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder.

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258 comments on lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini

    1. sally — Whoops! I will add that to the recipe; I’d meant to but forgot.

      artephora — I’ve seen a lot of recipes for homemade tahini on the web; it looks really easy. If not, maybe almond butter, just a little? Different flavor, but similar texture.

  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’m always on the lookout for good and tasty recipes using pulses and grains because so many recipes are just boring and tasteless. Yours promises a delicious meal that I’m looking forward to trying out soon.

  2. We are going to eat this very soon. Love your roasted butternut squash and chickpea salad which has a lot of the same flavors. I don’t mind the extra puttering!

  3. A comment and a question: First, thank you for your words about people’s “Eeeewwww” comments. It also drives me nuts. Just becasue you don’t have a taste for something does not make it ok to insult someone else for liking it! Our digital world has made the repercussions of such rudeness disappear. Most people would never say things like that to someone’s face.

    Second, I don’t have tahini, but do have some sesame oil. Could I use this as a replacement? How much would you suggest?

    Thank you very much!

  4. MMmm, I’ve been looking for a lentil salad recipe, you just made my day. Also, for those of us not in NYC, any more details about that grapefruit G+T would be most welcome. I’ll try and reverse engineer from afar!

  5. I am enamored first with this salad and your gracious concession to the merits of her book (although I had no idea it was filled with great vegetable dishes and that makes me want to get it too), but even more, your awesome favor at the end of this post. So true!

  6. I definitely dislike it when people say icky about a food or a drink when they don’t like it. I finally got my husband to stop saying blech every time I wanted some coffee. It might have been funny once, but not the 153rd time.

    This looks awesome. I love my mortar and pestle, so this is probably completely up my alley (and I found my last bag of lentils yesterday, so now I have to decide between this and the lentil “sausage” stew also here.

  7. I have been most intrigued by the decadent and mouth watering dessert recipes that you share, but I’ve lately been looking for delicious and protein full recipes and salads. This looks wonderful and I’m sure it will be interesting to make. Thanks!

  8. I just agree with everything in this post… my experience with restaurant chef’s cookbooks, the lack of excitement for a lentil and chickpea salad, etc. I’m so glad you mentioned all those things so that I could be convinced to want to try this anyway!

  9. This looks really amazing and I suddenly feel like spending the necessary time in my kitchen to reproduce it. As a vegetarian, I’m always looking for healthy and balanced recipes and that one seems like a keeper. Very inspirational, as always!

  10. Thanks for this. I have been debating that cookbook for months and I think you finally gave me the nudge I needed to take the plunge and buy it. Of course I have owned yours since the day it came out, so in my personal cookbook competition you won hands down!
    Also, I just have to ask. Is that a scarf-shop scarf in your photos. I have about 100 of those things and I’m not kidding (every month I tell myself no more, and then I love the new color even more). I can’t tell you how many times I have considered using them in photos. Love it!

  11. It gave my heart a little pitter patter to see you prefer Bulgarian feta cheese. After marrying in to a Bulgarian family, I’ve developed a strong preference. I have also found that yogurt made with Bulgarian cultures is my favorite. (Easy to find – its L. Bulgaricus in the ingredient list.)

  12. Ugh thank you thank you thank you for your say no to “icky” comments. I cannot stand when I’m eating something and someone says “oh gross! That’s disgusting! What is that??”- funny, the last time this happened I was eating lentil soup… But really, be mature and respectful. Not only do you continue to be an amazing and inspiring chef, but you as a person are fantastic.

    I’ll be making this recipe this week! Yum yum

  13. In the first paragraph, last sentence, do you mean “worst” rather than “worse”? I’ve never had the pleasure of possibly finding a typo before!

    I’m obsessed with your cookbook. The broccoli and kale salads make the rounds every other week here!

  14. I get what you mean about trying to replicate an experience at a great chef owned restaurant. I too find it problematic. This salad looks delightful. The fact that it has feta in it made it even better. I LOVE feta cheese.

  15. I’m not a fan of cumin so I usually just skip it when it’s an ingredient to a dish I’m making. However, it looks like a major component to this salad. Any substitution suggestions? Thanks.

  16. So timely. I had a lentil/garbanzo salad somewhere recently. I woke up this morning wondering if I could figure out how to put it together. Now I don’t have to! Thanks.

  17. I am always looking for interesting ways to prepare beans. This looks manageable and like it would be much more interesting than your average bean salad. Hooray!

  18. Good on you Deb, for praising another chef so generously and genuinely, and also for your comments on the pig photo. And this is why I continue to read you after 6 years – you’re lovely, and you speak sense.

  19. I had to look at the cover to see what the “favor” was referring to. Awesome! I love the cover! Said commenters should take a walk through their Chinatown, if possible.

    I love this bean salad. I have been looking for another way to use my lentils and this looks like a winner.

  20. Question: I have tons of ground cumin and coriander in my spice cabinet (store-bought, not home-ground). Would that work? Or should I go buy some cumin seeds and coriander seeds?

    Thoughts?

  21. Just read your description more closely, and it seems like the toasting/grinding process is key to the complexity of the recipe. Disregard my question!

  22. Are you kidding? A lentil and chickpea salad sounds AMAZING. :) Maybe just because I’ve had a lot of good bean & pulse salads, but still. Can’t wait to try it!

  23. This recipe looks fantastic! Definitely going to be making this. I imagine it would make a great snack or lunch. Full of protein! :) So glad that you pointed out your “favor”–people should admire and look up to chefs that use meat from nose-to-tail, as you said. It’s an incredible skill!

  24. Does this salad keep if there are leftovers? It’s a bit of effort so it would be great to get more than one meal out of the recipe. It looks so good I don’t want to save it for a special occasion. Thanks for all you do, Deb! Your humor and grace are unmatched in the food blogging community..

    1. mpb — I totally think it keeps. (I will find out for sure tonight.) I’ve held back some of the seeds and ground spices to “finish” the salad with them again tonight. I can’t wait!

      Eliza — Just skip it. The great thing with this salad is that there are so, so many flavors layered it, you won’t miss it as much as you would, in say, a dressing only spiced with cumin seed. That said, for a little extra smokiness, you could use some smoked paprika.

      Monica — Yes! Don’t worry, there are loads of typos here usually. I tend to drop my kid off at preschool and then furiously rush to get a post up before I have to make him lunch — you can tell. ;)

  25. I’ve taken the advice about toasting nuts before using them in recipes and applied to all seed spices as well as many ground spices (especially those aging ground spices). That toasting takes almost no time at all and makes so much difference, especially in things that are not cooked or are quickly cooked.

  26. yelling “icky!” at someone who eats or cooks something you don’t like is never going to be the way to begin a grown-up conversation about things that matter.

    Have I told you lately how much I adore you? Oh, and your book, too. Good, homey fun, that’s what.

  27. Deb,
    I also cringe a little when I see the photo of the pig strewn across Bloomfield’s back and shoulders, but it’s an important reminder so people don’t get so far removed from the origins of their food source. We’ve got to embrace it, or move on.

  28. Being vegetarian, I am soooo thrilled to see such an awesome salad on here with such great flavors! I can’t wait to try it. I have a couple mortar and pestles that I have never used before and am excited to try them out. Plus an extra coffee grinder on stand by!! Tahini, feta, chickpeas……. sounds heavenly! THANKS!

  29. OH. MY. GOD. Thank you SO much for addressing the “sprout in garlic cloves” issue. Only recently, in the last 8 months or so has garlic become an issue for me where EVERY SINGLE BULB I buy has sprouts in all the cloves. Why is this? Does this mean the garlic is not as fresh? I always have to pick it out and it is so important to do so or your garlic will be bitter instead of savory.

    1. shoshana — Some people feel that it can impart bitterness. April Bloomfield is absolutely clear in her introduction where she discusses ingredients like this that it’s not going to ruin your dish if you leave it in (heck, I’ve always left it in, and never had a problem) but that you might prefer the flavor if you remove it. That’s all.

      More about garlic — Given, I’m not a farmer! (We know that, right? I mean, I don’t even have a fire escape to grow things on.) But from what I understand, garlic is usually pulled up in the spring (“spring garlic”) and then dried. So, theoretically dried garlic bulbs (what we normally just call “garlic”) you buy in the summer or early fall, especially at farmers markets, should be the freshest and I’d imagine that as winter goes on, you’re more and more likely to see those sprouts. Farmer/grower types, please correct away if I’ve got this wrong.

      Sara — I think it has the potential to convert a lentil-phobe. Seeking out tiny green lentils called Lentils De Puy (I did, because I love them) can also help. They’re quite delicate and tiny, and have a devoted following. I suppose you could use something else here too, such as another small bean, but since this salad is more lentils (2 cups) than anything else (1 3/4 cups chickpeas, small onion) it seems worth it to use it to make peace with its primary ingredient.

      Thank you — For all of your comments about my favor request. I’d expected it to either go unnoticed or for it to annoy people. I broke what I consider a cardinal rule of human interactions which is that one should not try to control others’ behavior, but learn to control one’s own reactions to that behavior (i.e. if I let things I can’t control drive me “batty,” well, the world’s going to be a tough place for me, yes?). And yet. Maybe just this once. ;)

  30. Deb – Smoked paprika, perfect. Thank you for the suggestion. I can’t wait to try the salad.

    Shoshana – the older the garlic, the higher the likelihood there will be sprouts. So, by the end of winter your garlic will have sprouts in the cloves. The good news, green garlic is showing up at the farmers markets (at least in CA), so soon fresh young garlic heads will be available.

  31. I completely agree with your point at the end of this post. The rancid Amazon “reviews” which excoriate the book solely on the basis of a photograph of a dead pig, annoys the pants off me. I have no problem with people not wanting to eat meat for any number of reasons, but I simply cannot understand the spite directed towards Bloomfield for showing the complete (dead) animal. Do the same people go ballistic every time they walk past a butcher’s display of steaks?

  32. How much will be lost if one uses canned lentils or the refrigerated, cooked ones you can sometimes find at whole foods? Beans are probably the one and only thing I cant stand wasting time making.

  33. I had seen the eye-catching cover of the book, but not realised that the pig was dead. I just assumed it was alive, which sounds stupid now that I say it. But I think that she is holding it as if it were alive, sort of gently and tenderly, if you know what I mean. In any event, I am vegetarian and I actually find the cover quite beautiful. It’s unusual, attention-grabbing and thought-provoking, but also just beautiful. Based purely on that picture, she seems to know exactly what she is doing, and that’s always commendable.

    About roasting whole spices and then grinding them — if one wants to use pre-ground spices, it still helps to roast the powders to bring out the flavour more strongly, provided one has the time and inclination. I rarely do, but it does work.

  34. I love the flavors in this one! …

    Question – I am still getting used to using a lot of legumes. Like chickpeas now, but did not initially.

    Lentils not so much. So far. Do lentils add something special here? Or maybe a better question, would this be a recipe that would get a lentil-phobe to change her mind?

  35. I’m new to Smitten Kitchen, and this is a truly lovely post. I especially appreciate your comment about how April Bloomfield’s writing inspired you to stretch yourself, “it makes it even more fun that she had me, within a day, reaching outside my comfort zone.” Thank you for an enjoyable and inspiring read!

  36. This looks delicious! I am wondering about the garlic. My sister lives in Turkey and her Turkish mother-in-law always mashes the garlic with the salt. Perhaps it mellows it out a bit? I have noticed myself that the flavor is different when I chop/mash it, vs using a press. I love bulgarian feta, too, but have recently developed an intolerance to all dairy products. Do you have a recommendation of what might help flavor the salad without it? Or are there enough other flavors that it would be fine?

  37. I am very excited about this salad! I remember eating a really simple-looking puy lentil dish in San Sebastian, it was so simple but amazingly delicious because of the garlic & spices it was prepared with and puy lentils have been a pantry staple ever since–the flavour’s amazing and complex in how it absorbs and merges with different aromas. Really, it’s not like the other (lentils). I’m constantly on the hunt for recipes like this, I cannot wait to make this–it’s perfection!

    PS canned lentils will not do for this! You want the spices to blend with the nutty, rich flavour of the puy.

  38. You find so many amazing things to do with chickpeas!The crisping of them was next on my list, will add this amazing sounding salad too. Congrats on your Piglet almost win!Such an inspiration to all us home cooks you are!

  39. I SO love this dish! Chickpeas are amazing but I don’t usually know what to do with them and how to incorporate them into my food routine, so this recipe is exactly what I’ve been waiting for!
    Thanks Deb, as usual.

    xo, Elisa

  40. “yelling “icky!” at someone who eats or cooks something you don’t like is never going to be the way to begin a grown-up conversation about things that matter.” – thank you.
    Also, I really don’t like cooked chickpeas. I like them dried, roasted and salted as a snack or in hummus. But not cooked or out of a can. Anyway I could replace them & still enjoy the salad as it should be? I am also perfectly ok with leaving them out because I am recent and absolute convert to lentils and it all started with the lentils de puy. Now I am making up for the 20 odd years when I refused to eat them (childhood trauma… lol)

  41. Hi, Deb
    I follow your blog for almost a year and enjoy it immensly as much as your recipes.
    The last one was Chocolate- hazelnut macaroon torte that i made for Seder Pesach.
    Thank you sooooooooooo much!!!!
    My family talked about this cake for a week and i decided to make it again.
    This salad looks fantastic and tastes great!!!
    I just made it for lunch.
    I was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes from his books “Jerusalem” and “Plenty” and made quite a few salads that remind me yours.
    Thank you again for wonderful recipes and ideas .

  42. So great combo of flavor, I will taste this soon (with preserved lemon, I love this).
    I agree with everything you said : chef cookbooks, yelling icky…
    and I’m not going to be the one yelling icky, because I’m from France, you know the country where you can eat frog legs, snails, “foie gras”, tripe and so on…

  43. I received this cookbook at an event several months ago and it sat collecting dust since. But I decided that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to make at least one thing from every cookbook that I have and so I tried the ginger cake. I highly recommend it! If you make it though I would love a tip for an easier way to grate large amounts of ginger as I thought my arm was going to fall off.

  44. So…how to make that Grapefruit Gin and Tonic (swoon)???

    Should I assume it’s as simple as the name implies?

  45. I have the same “flavor profile” as you …feta/beans/lemon/garlic…. and then, of course, dessert. That’s why I love your recipes! But this one really hit the spot – I love lentils and chick peas, and cook them all the time, but I am always looking for some way to tweak the recipes so that they achieve new heights… My standard vinaigrette treatment has me yawning, and I’ve eaten the cumin/spinach/tomato version too many times to count. Anything I do with them can be sort of a snooze. Anyway, this sounds like a great way to take the humble legume from good to great.

  46. Whoa, John T – the comments on this site don’t usually got that direction. Deb – can you delete his obnoxious comment?

  47. I can’t wait to prepare this salad! I can taste and smell the fragrances of the spices now as I just read through the recipe. I have been to Lebanon, where the food is fabulous and this recipe might be a mainstay. Excited about this website!

  48. oh yum! I will absolutely try this – it reminds me of Deborah Madison’s lentil chickpea salad in her Vegetarian Cooking for everyone – it also has couscous in it. I’ve been making that for years and have done some of my own variations on it, but am happy for another! Thank you!

  49. Deb, I feel the same way re: your favor…if you don’t want to eat it, simply don’t. But the rest of the table (me) doesn’t want to hear about it.

    Even more when someone says, “cute glasses, can I try them on?”. When I comment, “yes, but they’ll be too strong for you, so don’t say something stupid.” And inevitably they say something stupid like, “you must be blind, I can’t see anything, they’re so strong…”

    It makes me insane!

  50. Oh come on now. Like a whole little coven of publishing people didn’t endlessly discuss how big of a splash this dead pig pix would make before AB’s book was sent to the printer’s? The overheated chatter in reviews & online is EXACTLY what they hoped for when they pushed the envelope with this cover. In most instances, I agree with you – people should keep their eeeewwwws to themselves. But here, I find the marketing ploy they used – i.e. using an image that they KNEW many, many people would OBVIOUSLY find offensive – manipulative (no surprise there) and yes, the photo gross. Just as I was supposed to!

  51. Wow that looks amazing! I’m usually not a fan of chickpeas, but this looks really delicious (and healthy). I’ll have to check out her cookbook.

  52. I will be making this with great excitement for Friday evening, a visit from our vegetarian daughter. My question is about Techini. When your recipe says well stirred techini paste, I am thinking that is straight from the jar, without additions of water, oil and spices. Is that true of recipes calling for techini generally. I am always at a loss because I make a Mediterranean techina to keep in the refrigerator for use in dressing food generally. I never know if I can use that or I need to open a new jar.
    A word about garlic. In the spring when you slice a clove in half, you will see a green central sprout. This can be bitter and it is good to remove it. Also, smashing garlic and mincing it with salt will tame that ‘over-the-top’ garlic flavor. I grow my own, some years it is like horseradish flames, other times it is fine.

  53. This is the first recipe I made from April Bloomfield’s book! Its incredible and definitely worth all of the extra steps. I’ve made lots of pared down versions of it since, but the original fussiness makes it so much better. You should try her goat cheese souffle next- heavenly and also keeps its height for a long time.

    1. Eliza — I couldn’t resist it either. I just thought we might all need some beans and legumes (first) after all that holiday eating. ;)

      CR — While I do agree with your general point, and I have little doubt that publishers knew exactly the reactions they’d be getting (I went seventeen rounds with my publishers on my own book cover; they take every speck of them quite seriously) I would not then conclude that they published it to offend or manipulate anyone. I think of the cover more of an announcement of what her cooking is about. Again, nobody should feel that it’s their job to look at it, eat something they don’t wish to, or even be comfortable with with Bloomfield’s and her publisher’s choices. My only request was that we try to use grown-up language to discuss it, which just about everyone, delightfully, has. Because you’re all awesome.

      Katya — I was a vegetarian for a long time and, as I have said a few times here, don’t think that there’s any obligation whatsoever to feel comfortable with the book cover. I put the asterisk before the book link for this reason, as in, please don’t click if this kind of thing will bother you; my hope was to avoid upsetting anyone who wouldn’t want to see it. My request was only about treating the issue — and the views of others — with courtesy. Especially considering that this is a salad recipe, and not the one in the book with fried pigs ears, either. ;)

      Louise — Main or side? As a side, I’d say 6. A main, maybe just 3.

      JacquieKatz — Many brands of tahini become separated in their jars, like natural peanut butter does — oil on top, solids at the bottom. Stirring it should mostly bring it back together, so you get balanced spoonfuls. I hope that cleared it up.

      Pamela — That’s hilarious. I confess that I used to do that all the time… but I was in high school and I thought it was funny. I’ve matured (just barely) since then, thank goodness.

      Grapefruit gin and tonic — First of all, it’s essential that I tell you that there’s an entire gin and tonic menu at The Breslin, if I haven’t given you already enough reason to go there. I really meant to do my own riff on it over the holidays, but was too wiped out from book touring, lame. Here’s their description: “the tonic and grapefruit – beefeater 24 with grapefruit bitters, tonic and grapefruit zest.” See if you can find grapefruit bitters to start. Then, make a simple syrup with a lot of grapefruit peel in there. I don’t think the drink (blessedly) has any grapefruit juice so the intense flavor comes from the syrup. Use a splash of the simple syrup instead of any Rose’s lime juice (if you’re into that kind of thing) or just to taste. Then, tonic, gin (can I tell you how much I love that they use Beefeaters in it?) and a big strip of grapefruit peel. Here’s a photo I found online.

  54. This looks fabulous! Healthy, flavorful, satisfying… I’ve been inspired to purchase a spice grinder. It’s on its way through Amazon right now. Thanks for jumping out on that limb and taking us along with you. ;)

  55. Hi Deb, big fan of yours here.
    I just wanted to point out that there’s a world of difference between a knee-jerk, “eww”-based reaction and a carefully considered objection, on moral grounds, to Bloomfield’s book (and the nose-to-tail approach as a whole).
    Most of the vegetarians and vegans I know are extremely thoughtful, reflective people for whom the choice to not eat meat is a difficult and deliberate ethical position, and not an arbitrary taste preference or juvenile aversion to the ‘icky.’

    (undoubtable) culinary mastery aside, I think there’s much to object to in the marketing decisions behind the Bloomfield cover, some of them raised in a comment above by CR.

  56. As a vegetarian of 18 years, I wholeheartedly agree with you, Deb. If for no other reason than to make an impact, we ought to reserve our “Ew” comments for kitchens & companies using unsustainable, over-processed, chemical ridden, and/or poorly treated and wastefully prepared meats. I love that the trend is more towards local & sustainable now. I have so much respect for those pushing that forward and making it the more obvious standard.
    That all said – THANK YOU for including this (and so many other) delicious vegetarian recipes! Keep em coming!!!

  57. Persuasive Miss Deb. My calling the cover of the book ‘manipulative’ is a bit over the top. Yes, it’s the public face, an ‘ad’ of sorts, persuading people to pick up/read/buy/splatter-with-tomato-sauce the book. But that’s just the book jacket doing it’s job! You’re right – AB’s pix avec pig is complete TRUTH in advertising – whether I like it or not, she IS all ’bout that nostrils-to-nuts thing! Tee hee. The cover would only be ‘manipulative’ in the usual negative sense of the word if, say, inside was nothing but vegan dessert recipes from Alsace Lorraine. Eeeewwww. Couldn’t help myself. By the way, after reading your gracious & grown-up comment on my first ever post to your blog, I think YOU are awesome!

  58. I am not crazy about tahini, but this post reminded me that I haven’t made Patricia Wells’ delicious lentil-chickpea-chard-curry soup lately. I am sure she has a much better name for it in her cookbook. Thanks, again, for the inspiration.

  59. One of these days I need to track down your book; I love your blog. And all the recipes I’ve tried. I thought my taste buds were getting old and jaded, but your recipes all have FLAVOR! Thanks.
    Now you know the toast-the-spices trick; great curries all start that way…

  60. I just made this salad and it is AMAZING. So good!! I toasted and ground 2 Tbsp sesame seeds with the other spices in place of the tahini and it worked out well. Thanks for choosing this one!

  61. Deb,

    Maybe I missed this, but what exactly is a preserved lemon? We use zest all the time, obviously, but even in gourmet grocery stores I haven’t come across preserved lemon. Would I use a little zest instead, or it it skippable?

    Thanks!
    PS the recipe for penne with the white bean sauce was amazing!

  62. Oh yum. Made this for dinner tonight. A few days of tasty lunches to come – especially when I think that the flavors will all mingle overnight – YUM. Made it without but can totally see why the preserved lemon was in there – maybe sub in some citrus zest if needed? Did I mention the YUM factor?

  63. Hi! I have been following your blog for some time now and have made numerous things from it. However, I must say, I just made this salad (YES, it does seem to take FOREVER) but its well worth it! Amazing flavors! Thank you for all your fun and witty posts. They always make me laugh! :)

  64. I am in SW Florida, so subbed local lime and calamondin juice for the lemon and minced some of the rind in lieu of the preserved lemon. Served the whole thing over a bed of arugula and topped with grilled shrimp. DIVINE. The dressing made more than needed, and I brushed that on the shrimp.

  65. A friend gave me a spice roasting pan for Christmas. Its not even something on my never-in-my-life things to have because I never considered it. However,it is a life changer. The taste of roasted spices are sublime. The aromas in my ordinary little house are extraordinary. If you don’t have one, just consider it. It stays on my stovetop and it makes me happy.

  66. Hi Deb,
    Garlic is typically planted in autumn/fall and harvested is summer. In North America a general guide is to plant around Halloween and harvest around 4th July. Spring garlic is rather different and is indeed harvested in spring when the bulb is still small and immature. Once garlic is harvested it can be eaten fresh or cured. A clove that is sprouting is likely to be on the older side but still edible. Hope that helps! Thank you for the wonderful blog.

  67. You are one class act.

    Thank you for your comments on April Bloomfield, her cooking and her approach. We raise a variety of “food” animals (as they are termed) more as pets, not particularly for food, but sometimes that is the best thing one can do for an injured animal. I am not much of a meat eater and eat only those I grow myself. Almost all have been raised here. I like to think I can honor and respect them from the time they are born until the time they die, and using as much of an animal as possible is essential.

    I have and cherish both cookbooks and personally thought the competition should have been closer! Her cookbook cover and yours are both designed with content truth in mind and how can that be so wrong? I love reading your blog.

  68. Made this tonight, and beefed it up with a cup of cooked whole wheat couscous. Served it on top of some baby arugula and added avocado. Delicious, and looking forward to the leftovers! I used pre-ground spices, not toasted, and everything was still wonderful.

  69. I can’t believe it. I was just thinking, I have lentils to use up, maybe Deb has some good recipes on her site! I think this will do the job, thanks!

  70. This salad looks amazing and I always enjoy your writing, but I couldn’t help wondering why the lentils are cooked and the chickpeas are canned and drained. Not that I have anything against using canned ones, because I often do, but once you are cooking the lentils and going through a whole process making this salad anyway, why not soak the chickpeas and then cook them too? Does Bloomfield say why? Just curious.
    Also, I agree with what you write about juvenile behaviour regarding food. I am less understanding than you: if you do consume meat and fish (even if you don’t eat pork) you need to understand where it comes from to eat more responsibly. May those eyes staring at you (and that make you so uncomfortable) remind you that an animal’s life was sacrificed for your enjoyment/sustenance so savor every part of it and try not to waste it!

  71. Ahh this looks so good. I can’t say I am a fan of lentils but mixed with chickpeas and tahini it can only be d-e-l-i-g-h-t-f-u-l. I have the same lentils brand! Didn’t know you could find it in the USA (I live in France). It’s so fresh and mediterranean.

    1. Yohann — My secret is that after going to three stores and not being able to find actually-packed-in-France lentils de puy (yes, I’m crazy, but I really love my legumes enough to chase down the ones that will make me happiest; I also order beans from afar from time to time) and ordered them and a few other sundries from this shop, which a homesick French friend told me about. I have zero regrets.

      Nuts about food — Bloomfield doesn’t say why but I suspect it’s because already-cooked lentils are not wonderful at all, but very good canned beans exist (I swear by Goya). Absolutely no reason you cannot take the extra step and soak your own beans (I bet they do at the restaurant).

      Alexandra — Thank you so much. A tad embarrassed that I didn’t just Google it. I’m slipping! But I will know for now on, thanks.

      Preserved lemon — … is pickled lemon, a condiment used frequently in North African and sometimes Indian cuisine. More here. It would offer a bitter/sour/salty thing. You might mince up a tiny bit of lemon rind, and sprinkle it with lemon juice and a salt for a rough, approximate flavor.

  72. We had this for dinner last night, minus the feta (we’re Eastern Orthodox, still in Lent.) I just have to thank you for hosting the only place I can come for recipes in and out of fasting seasons: you have great vegan stuff AND great meaty / cheesy stuff, so I just bookmark some of them some of the time and make them later!

    Other substitutions I made: shallots instead of red onion (I pickled them first using your tried-and-true method, and my husband who does NOT like onions loved them.) I also discovered I am out of cumin seeds, so used ground. And I used dried chickpeas, which I soaked and cooked using the same method as the lentils (sage, oil, garlic.) It was still an amazing salad, and served alongside some sauteed winter greens, made a perfect light meal.

  73. I can not wait to try this recipe. Your post has also interested me in reading Bloomfield’s cookbook. I especially like your bit about the cover of the book. If only more people could have that perspective regarding issues and ideas where disagreement is inevitable. Thanks for your thoughtful and respectful perspective.

  74. Looks delicious, with Mediterranean ingredients! Have you heard of Ramadan? I sent you an email this morning, I’d love your input! :)

  75. Yesterday, after receiving your post, I put together your lentile & chick pea salad … it is so good! I substituted shallots for red onions and they worked fine. Frankly it’s even better today as the flavors have had a chance to marry nicely. I served it on a bed of mixed greens with a small salmon filet on the side. This recipe is a definite keeper.

  76. Hi,

    Loved the intense write up to the recipe and your take on it. Love that you took a book with the cover of a girl and a pig and popped out a totally vegetarian recipe out of it! Loved the use of chickpeas and green lentill. Its home grounds for me though! Its a pretty complex use of spices and so many twists and turns, but hey thats where you get the complex tastes from!
    Please please tell me the make of the camera adn the lens. I was bowled overr by the sharp pics!

    Shobha

  77. Wasn’t sure what to do with the chickpeas in my pantry but this would be lovely! I feel like Middle Eastern flavors can make the healthiest dishes so satisfying with all the intense onion/tahini/lemon flavors they have.

  78. I got nervous at first because I think you like a more pronounced tahini flavor than I do and I only used half the dressing. But after tasting it all together, I happily dumped in the rest. It was delicious and thank you!!

  79. Just wanted to say that I made this salad today and it is AMAZING. You have converted me to a lentil lover with more than once recipe, but this one takes the blue ribbon. And I just ordered ‘A Girl and Her Pig,’ because this recipe convinced me that even in a kosher kitchen it will be worth having. Thank you!

  80. As I was making this, the entire time I was thinking it will probably be ‘mehhhhh’. Then one bite and WOWW!! Delicious!!

  81. The salad looks delicious and I’m definitely going to give it a try. I also want to thank you for your comment about people saying “ewww”; this kind of behavior drives me crazy and I’m so happy you addressed it:)

  82. I read April’s book last summer at the local swimming pool. I didn’t notice anyone looking askance at me, but the combo of the piggy photo and what I looked like in my swim suit COULD have made for some hilarity I suspect. The book ( borrowed from the local library) was fabulous. Not only her philosophy of “no waste” but the amazing way she put ingredients together. If you are not of unlimited funds most libraries have excellent cookbook collections. This one is absolutely loaded with all kinds of tempting things. I “flagged” a number of them, and then took it to the copier at the library before returning it. I am delighted that both you and she have received such accolades, the photos and general love of subject matter absolutely shine through in both books! We are so lucky you share so much with us!

  83. Made this for dinner yesterday and it was the bomb. Used a large tan lentil about the size of the and color of the chickpeas called chana somethingorother and it turned out great. Also I would agree with other posters who suggest shallots instead of red onion. We used red onion but that turned out to be a bit to strong for some people and I don’t think shallots would ruin the harmonies that make this dish awesome atmo.

  84. ha ha… you mentioned Himalayan sea salt.. I use that all the time.. it`s cheap here i New Zealand. .. but i know what you mean. Love your recipes.

  85. I was super-excited by this post, as I’m always on the lookout for new tasty ways to use lentils and chickpeas, and promplty made it for dinner. I must confess though; I used my store-bought ground cumin and coriander (halved ammounts) rather than toasting and grinding whole seeds, and I don’t regret it one bit. I will probably try the toasting/grinding thing another time, but at 8 pm on a weeknight it was just a little too much effort. As I’m not a huge fan of raw red onion, I also soaked them in two tablespoons of lemon juice from the moment I started the lentils cooking to take the edge off. I then reduced the ammount of lemon juice I put in the tahini dressing accordingly, and added the feta separately at the end.
    The final result was still delicious, and I’m happy to report that it keeps perfectly well overnight as well. =)

    I also wanted to say, as I think this is my first post (although I’m a long-time lurker), thank you so much for the blog Deb, as without your friendly approach I would never have been inspired to make many recipes which are now favourites, or to try new things like bagel-making!

  86. Made this for dinner this week and while very labor intensive, it is quite wonderful. I goofed and used goat cheese instead of feta (and it was still fine), would probably opt for ground spices next time, but it wouldn’t be that much of a time saver. Next time I would allow 3 hrs. to put it all together, seriously. Great flavors and texture – thanks for sharing!

  87. As a fairly new subscriber to the Smitten Kitchen I thought I’d add my two cents (or should I say ‘pence’) worth on the ‘eeeewwww’ debate. I tried – and failed – to post a photo of the UK version of ‘A Girl and her Pig’ – a lovely line drawing illustration of the author, knife and fork poised, behind a nice pink pig on a platter – perhaps to avoid the ‘eeewwww’ factor? In October we were lucky enough to get a lunchtime table just in front of the kitchen when April Bloomfield had a special week-long residency at the St John Hotel just off Leicester Square in central London. My husband had the Pig’s Ear Salad as a first course – and guess what? It was exactly that – a battered and deep fried pig’s ear (they are much bigger than you think, btw), the inside of which was startlingly similar to a human ear and, well, the ‘eeeew factor’ loomed large over the initial part of the meal, however for me the highlight was the Banoffee Pie desert (also in the book, I think) with crust so light it could have flown off the plate. The fact that April Bloomfield can create an amazing dish with lentils and chick peas as well as fry up a pig’s ear shows her skill and versatility as a chef and balances out the potential ‘yuck factor’! I hope potential readers will get past the dead pig on the cover and discover all the hidden gems inside.

  88. I don’t mind doing the work if I will be enjoying an amazing result afterwards. I love tahini and I think that this ingredient will really make this dish stand out.

  89. I made this for dinner last night and it was wonderful. You’re exactly right, it tastes like so much more than the sum of its parts. Made it with roast vegetables and some tomato bread. It’s definitely one of those veggie dishes that satisfy meat eaters too.

  90. This looks great!

    I just wanted to make a suggestion about the lentils. When I read “green lentils” I immediately think of split peas, which would be all kinds of wrong in a salad like this. Obviously the de Puy-style green lentil would be great, but black Beluga lentils or even plain old brown lentils (which you can buy anywhere in my neck of the woods) would be better than your standard grocery store green lentil, which is likely to fall apart into mush.

    1. Nicole — Great point. In fact, I was struck by how much the tiny green imported lentils reminded me of the black ones I’d picked up inexpensively at Kalustyan’s a few years ago.

  91. Do you recommend eating this warm? Room temp? Would it be okay chilled? Thinking of making it for a potluck tonight and it would be great if I could make it this morning and stick it in the fridge. What do you think? Sorry if you’ve already answered this question… I did try to skim the comments but didn’t see it.
    Thanks!

  92. This looks incredible – im a HUGE fan of chickpeas and lentils so I’m very excited about this recipe. Going to try it out tonight for my crowd of guests!
    Love all your recipes, I have you on my list of inspirations on my blog

  93. If she approved a photo of herself with a dead pig over her shoulder on the cover of her book, and she did not expect negative feedback, she’s not living in the real world. I propose she knew it would cause controversy in some circles, especially in NYC, and she made the decision that anything which would cause conversation would result in more sales.

    People can say what they want about it, regardless. One opinion is not more or less adult, you simply would like people to either agree with yours, or not to lend themselves a voice at all. That is what seems childish to me.

    1. Brendan — I absolutely agree with the first part. But I still don’t think “ew” helps grow a conversation (whether here or in any number of times I’ve read this on posts where someone didn’t like the ingredient — seriously, things like black beans). I clearly said that nobody should feel they are being expected to like it, want to look at it, or even agree with it on principle. I think a comment section where everyone always felt the same way could be rather boring. I only requested that people try to have a quality conversation about it; that’s not going to start with “icky!”

  94. This looks really good, Deb.

    Since you are loving the Middle Eastern recipes right now, could you post a recipe for falafel? (I know you get a lot of requests, but thought I’d take a chance.) I searched and found lots of times where you mentioned a new falafel recipe, but never actually found the recipe. I love falafel, but don’t want the box mixes.

  95. This looks so good!! I’ve been living off recipes like this lately and I just can’t seem to get enough of them! I must add this to my list of rotating weekly lunches!! :)

  96. I made this recipe for dinner tonight. I paired it with marinated-grilled chicken. I had some tiny italian lentils and they worked great. The flavors are fantastic. Will definitely add to my repertoire.

  97. I get annoyed when people don’t appreciate the realities of meat. I grew up in the country, and made certain that my children are likewise aware that meat means something gave its life. I also take them to pick at pick-your-own farms, because I want them to understand what a few hours out in the field FEELS like, and what it tastes like. I think it’s important, and makes food more enjoyable, to appreciate the labor and planning that goes into food.

    And I’m also hugely skeptical of those restaurant cookbooks! But this recipe really sounds like all my favorite things. And Indian cooking already trained me in the importance of toasting your spices right before grinding. Can’t wait to try it!

  98. Delicious. Just made it this afternoon and shared the recipe with friends. I can’t decide which ingredient makes this so great, so obviously it’s everything. Thank you!

  99. At the perfect time in my life, my 30’s and early 40’s we lived in the country and raised our own beef and had beautiful vegetables from our garden. There is nothing so perfect as knowing the things you are eating are wholesome and safe for your children. Yhat being said, I am in a different part of my life and have to buy my organic vegetables. I printed out this recipe and also sent it to my vegetarian grand daughter. I am sure we will both try it. Thanks!

  100. Having just lost a writing competition myself, this was a huge comfort to me. AND this looks delicious. And I adore your cookbook. And all your recipes.

  101. I just wrote about this “eww”ing phenomenon on my own blog! As a whole animal butcher (one whom you met, and who helped you at your Brooklyn Kitchen book party—hi!) I encounter it every day. What makes me the saddest is that 99% of the people who “ew” what I’m doing behind the counter are 100% okay with buying meat in its processed and unrecognizable form. What an incredibly interesting discussion to have stumbled upon, thank you so much for starting it, Deb. You are just the best.
    Love,
    Cara

  102. While I agree that “Ew!” is not a very useful comment, it is no more childish than the equally empty “That looks great!” Neither gives you anything with which to start a quality conversation. So both should be frowned on, yet I’ve never seen anyone chastised for vapid positive comments.

    1. jwg — Yes, it’s a typo, so sorry. I list that and other errata here.

      michel — While I agree that generic upbeat comments don’t add a ton of texture to the conversation, I see no reason to chastise people who are just simply excited about making something new. We’re friendly here, or try to be; I think of this comment section like my living room and try to speak to everyone as I would if they were in it. The favor I asked was hoping to maintain that, to simply warn people to not click if they’d never want to see such a thing and to ask that if we do discuss a cookbook cover (when I’d hoped to discuss lentils) that we do so nicely. You’d never say “Ew” if I brought out something you didn’t want to eat for dinner, or I hope you wouldn’t; you’d probably just say “It’s not for me.” or “With all due respect, I find using animals for food unethical.” All parts of that conversation would be welcome.

  103. Delicious! I wanted to add some veggies so I served with a Moroccan shredded carrot salad (from Epicurious) as a topping, and it was a great combo!

  104. Hey Deb, I think you might have missed out the instructions on what to do with the cilantro or parsley before adding it to the onion mixture. Yours looks like it’s roughly chopped; is that about right?

  105. I made this tonight for my family. We devoured almost all of it. I’m just glad there is a little left over for me tomorrow, if I can hide it from my husband. The toasted spices really put this dish over the top. It wasn’t very pretty to look at, but it was certainly delicious. I could have eaten the dressing with a spoon, and I literally licked the bowl with my finger after mixing it. I’m not proud. I’m putting this in my ‘favorite recipes’ file.

  106. Discovered your blog today looking to do ribs in the oven. Three hours later I am enjoying the ribs, and have been enjoying your blog the whole time they were cooking. Thanks for ALL that you do.

  107. Having nothing to do with this recipe but I can’t figure out how to email you…I just made the coffee toffee from the cookbook for the second time and it is beloved by all. However, in the universe I live in there are 8 tablespoons to a stick of butter, and the recipe says 8 tablespoons or 2 sticks. I’ve been using one and I assume that is the correct amount. The only kinds of butter that I know of that come in smaller sticks are priced akin to the Himalayan pink salt.

  108. Such a great way to start using lentils in my diet, I don’t really like them, but with the addition of spices they are transformed. Thanks

  109. Could I just say that I love the picture of your son? I mean, the recipe is nice too, but I really enjoy reading your comments, and I loved that photo. I speak as someone who doesn’t have children, so it’s like objective.

  110. I made this yesterday for a bbq side, and it turned out pretty well! I think I kind of overcooked my lentils, as they started to lose their shape by the time I thought they were “done,” so that was probably my fault. Other than that, I thought it was quite delicious, a bit unusual in terms of the savory spices, kind of “exotic” feeling. I’m excited to taste it today after there’s been more melding time!

  111. Just tried this salad! It’s quite nice. Really it’s true that reading the directions it seems “pesky”, but I started the lentils cooking and by the time they were done, I had everything else ready and was almost finished cleaning up. So it’s still a 30-40 minute meal. It does make a difference to mix the onions with the lemon etc first, then they have a distinct lemony/salty flavour. I followed the recipe but ended up adding a lot more cilantro leaves and lots of black pepper once I tasted it – the tahini dressing is delicious, just teh right amount of salt and garlic, but I just felt like it was missing something. I also think it could use something sweet with a chewy texture to balance it out – like some raisins cooked with the lentils, or adding chopped sundried tomatoes or dried apricots at the end.

  112. I made this salad over the weekend with some “shortcuts” (pre-ground cumin and coriander) — delicious. I also made the kale salad with pecans and dried cherries from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Both are delicious but my personal favourite was your kale salad Deb – so so good – I couldn’t stop eating it :)

  113. This looks wonderful! I have all the ingredients to hopefully make this tonight or tomorrow, but am wondering how many servings a recipe makes … both as a main dish and as a side. If you noted that somewhere and I missed it, my apologies.

  114. I just finished making this, and it is a delicious dish! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve tried a few things from Bloomfield’s book (all with excellent results) but had kind of skipped over this one for absolutely no good reason. But I’m so glad I’ve tried it now, thanks to your post! In anticipation of it being awesome, I doubled everything so that I could have a ton of leftovers. Judging by the difference between your pics and my end result, though, I think that doubling exactly may have somehow made the proportions a bit wonky— mine is very wet! But the dressing is so darn good I figure it’s just more of a good thing. As always, thank you so much for your beautiful posts!

  115. gah! i checked out the book months ago from the library, slobbered over every page … and somehow missed this! thanks, deb, for calling it out. this is so up my alley, preserved lemon and all.

    m

  116. This was a tasty recipe, but as other commenters noted, mine was not nearly as pretty as in your lovely photographs! My (“French” from the bulk bin) lentils mushed together and formed a delicious but not super delicious-looking lumpy brown paste, and I am certain they weren’t overcooked. Maybe that’s what makes the Puy lentils worth the trouble?

  117. First, that you’ve extracted such a wonderful vegetarian recipe from a Bloomfield cookbook is a nice surprise. Second, with respect to your request for “grown-up” conversation, here’s a view from the other side. In this meat-crazy culture, any time a cute pic of a (live!) commonly-eaten animal is posted, there will inevitably be a slew of comments like “Mmm, bacon!” or “Yum, dinner!” and so on. Try to imagine this from the perspective of a vegetarian who shuns meat for ethical reasons. For such eaters, the killing of animals for human consumption is troubling. To see these jokes tossed about so casually gets under the skin. This is not aimed at you, Deb, but just a thought experiment for your thoughtful readers. I won’t “Eww!” (never would anyway) if you (meat-eaters) won’t make jokes about killing animals.

  118. Deb, do you think this would taste as good using red lentils? I have some of those at home and looking for tasty recipes for the red kind.

  119. Made this on Monday, and still enjoying incredible left overs tonight! This salad is truly superb! We also tried the salad as a wrap (in lavash) with fresh spinach and your home-made hummus – YUM! Thank you for this recipe. It is a keeper!

  120. YUM! I’ve made it twice to rave reviews both times. Everyone at my book club last night asked for the recipe. Makes it so so easy to eat more beans, even my meat loving boyfriend asks me to make this

  121. This salad has a Middle Eastern influence to it,which I love. Looks like many people have made it already, so I’m going to try it out this weekend, even though Spring has still not arrived in the UK yet!

  122. This was good, but the flavor wasn’t quite as bright as I’d hoped. I did use the preserved lemon, so I was surprised when it was still more muted. To be fair, I did not grind my own spices, but I thought they came out strongly enough – I think I was looking for more from the lemon and feta?

    I followed your suggestion and also made a simple potato gratin (yours) to go with it, and a green salad, and it was a nice meal. The 3 year old and the 10 month old especially loved the chickpeas.

    1. Jette — I am not sure I have a lot of experience comparing them. The stuff I usually buy (Joyva brand), I believe to be unhulled. Though, even looking at the container, I cannot tell for sure.

  123. This was so good! I didn’t quite read the assembly part properly, so I just mixed everything together and put the sesame seeds on top. And I left the smashed garlic out because I thought my colleagues at work might not appreciate the not-so-subtle smell (I did put the garlic in wih the lentils though). I used small brown lentils (I don’t know whether they have a special name in English) since I used up my Puy lentils the last time I made your spicy squash, lentil and goat’s cheese salad, and they needed slightly less cooking time. This was also the first time I used preserved lemon, and I liked it. My husband just couldn’t get enough of the salad either! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  124. THIS is my kind of salad, Deb. I admit I’ve overlooked A Girl and Her Pig thinking that it wouldn’t have much to offer a vegetarian, but I’m adding it to my amazon wishlist now.

  125. I was a vegetarian for over half my life, and still am very particular about the meat that I eat (I don’t do red meats, etc), and I completely agree with you about the cover. Didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I get the point of what you were saying about thinking maybe the animal was still alive, as it harkens to representations
    of shepherds rescuing lambs from danger by carrying the lamb on his shoulders.

    I still don’t like the feeling of raw meat on my hands, so I can’t imagine the feeling of it on my neck, but that’s another story.

    Can I say how much I love that Jacob is rocking out Paul McCartney style strumming with his left hand in the photo?

  126. I just made this and it was worth every step. So delicious! I think this will be my go-to potluck salad this summer. Last summer it was your Moroccan Carrot Salad.

  127. I made this for lunch the other day. I used almond butter instead of tahini (the husband doesn’t like tahini) and I tossed in some zatar at the end.
    It was fabulous! :) It’s going to be something I make often!

  128. Made this tonight and it is utterly delicious. Followed every step and I can see how integral to flavour all those ingredients are. All I added were some quartered hard-boiled eggs on the side, to make it a full meal. Lovely.

  129. This recipe is right up my alley, thank you. But… I found it to be really salty! I used sea salt, just normal sea salt, nothing fancy, so maybe I should have cut back the proportions but I figured it would be fine. What can one do to make it less salty? Add more lemon juice maybe? More cilantro? I would definitely make this again though and cut back on the salt.

  130. totally frustrated, lentils never turn out for me and I do not know why?!
    I had to use red lentils as it was all I had, but still…they always always turn to mush instead of plump hearty lentils. any clue why? This dish was a disaster as a result

    1. ashley — It’s the lentils. Red lentils fall apart when you cook them. It’s just the way you are. If you can find small green French lentils, they will stay intact. Red and French green are opposite ends of the lentil spectrum. Black lentils are closer to green and stay fairly intact. Brown lentils are somewhere inbetween; they won’t fall apart (which I just typo-ed as “asleep,” because I’m not tired or anything, heh) like red ones but won’t stay as intact as tiny green ones.

  131. Hi Deb! Do you think this salad would improve or be worsened by letting sit overnight? I have guests coming over on Thursday eve and would love to be able to put this together the night before. Thank you!!

    1. Anna — We enjoyed it for two more days after it was assembled. It keeps well. I did hold back some sesame seeds and ground spice to that it could be freshly garnished.

  132. Just made this recipe for my mom and myself. We loved it! It’s definitely a keeper. Thanks for taking the time to share your kitchen with us!

  133. HO-LY CRAP. This was so delicious. It did take a long time to make, but it was so freaking good. I don’t mind dealing with 500 ingredients and a fussy recipe if it’s easy and going to turn out lovely, and it did. Thanks for adapting and sharing.

  134. So this is much simpler than the recipe below, and although it might not be quite as delicious, but it was still WONDERFUL.

    1 can Garbanzo Beans
    1 can Black Beans
    1 cup frozen corn
    Pickled scallions
    Dressing as in the recipe
    Toasted sunflower seeds.

    It is divine and took about 15 minutes to make.

  135. I had this over the last couple days. It was delicious!! Really nice complex flavors. And I didn’t think it was complicated or time consuming at all… It was perfect with the Mediterranean lamb sausages I grilled.

    One question for you Deb – I really can’t stand more than a sliver or two of red onion but admit that it adds a certain quality to the salad. Do you have suggestions for a replacement? I thought perhaps pickled celery (like you use in your egg salad)? Thank you.

    1. artephora — You might prefer pickled red onions, which are more mild and sweet. The red onions here are soaked briefly in vinegar too. It doesn’t pickle them but can mute its bite; you could do so for longer (even an hour, setting it up as you begin the recipe) to give it more time to mellow. Or, of course, you could use something else. You might prefer scallions or shallots, both of which are milder. Or you could skip it. This salad has a lot going on and you’re not going to miss something you didn’t care for to begin with.

  136. I faked it and made the 15 minute version with pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s, non-toasted spices ground with mortar and pestle and salt. It was definitely a treat the time-poor week night way as well.

  137. I love lentil salads and we were quite excited about making this. Ultimately, we expected a much greater flavor punch. We had all the ingredients except for the fancy salt and preserved lemon. I added a bit of lemon rind. In the end we added all the toasted and ground spices and more lemon juice but we weren’t wowed by the recipe considering all the steps involved.

  138. This was delicious; thanks! I’m looking to have fewer meat-based meals, and this will definitely enter my rotation.

  139. In the middle east this dish is called Fattah. Its the same concept but you layer the beans, onion, olive, then finish it yogurt and fried flat bread.

  140. I have made this recipe three times now in the past two weeks – i cannot get enough! And you are right, the incredible medley of flavors makes every step worth it.

  141. i am normally allergic to following recipes faithfully but i decided with this one i’d try it as written. got halfway through when i realised i had been foiled by the metric system! our tablespoons in Australia are 20mL not 15mL…not to mention our cups are a bit different. still the salad turned out very nicely indeed. earthy, complex and sort of sexy. i like it though it’s not something i would make as an everyday dish but i will definitely be making it again in another incarnation. thanks again for great inspiration smitten kitchen.

  142. Deb – this salad is delicious! Thanks for sharing – so much flavour! My house smells amazing thanks to the lentils + sage!

  143. Love it. I actually thinks it’s fantastic without the dressing! But the dressing is definitely a lovely addition as needed. Thank you!!!!

  144. Among the many recipes I love on this site, this is easily one of my top three. So delicious – it’s in the weekly rotation, and each time I’ve served it to someone new, they’ve asked where the recipe comes from. So, thanks! One minor comment – I’ve found that using dried chickpeas and cooking them (like the lentils) takes this to even the next level. I know it’s extra time, and I still use canned when I’m pressed but, if I think ahead and soak them the night before, they take about as long to cook as the lentils – and taste so good. Just for those who don’t mind the extra step. Thanks again for your lovely, reliable and excellent blog!

  145. Just saying: feta is made from sheep’s milk. Otherwise, it’s not feta, it’s something else. Nowadays in Europe producers can’t even use the word feta unless the cheese comes from Greece.

  146. I didn’t have chickpeas in the apartment, but I did have a head of kale. So I subbed it, slicing into ribbons and parboiling. The kale version is perhaps not as serve-worthy to guests visually speaking, but it’s nonetheless absolutely delicious.

  147. I made this last night and ate the leftovers for lunch over a bed of arugula, it was a really nice combination.

  148. I made this just now — tonight — and it’s a big hit! Absolutely delicious. The goat’s milk feta really takes it over the edge into superb. We’re in bliss. Thank you!!!

  149. Really delicious and a perfect main dish for meatless Monday. Had a little sautéed kale on the side – perfect! And pretty easy to throw together.

  150. I make so many of your recipes, I don’t often write in, since it would be a “omg that was so delicious!’ comment, of which you get hundreds! But I just finished this recipe, and I feel compelled to write in and OMG this was so delicious! I did the simplified version (powdered spices) and no preserved lemon (though extra lemon juice) , and I started with dried chickpeas. And then I used cilantro. It was divine, just divine. I bought a big bag of Puy lentils just for this recipe – I figured it was worth it since I love lentils. I might eat this every night for dinner. I ate it with a kale salad and some homemade naan. It was only the desire for leftovers that kept me eating the entire thing. I think I’m a Middle Eastern food person. Anything with tahini, yogurt, garlic, lemon, cilantro, chickpeas. . .

    (For the person who found it salty, I ended up putting the salt in the onion mix and no additional salt – I like salty, but I can see the salt amount plus the feta = pretty salty.)

  151. Thanks for posting this delicious lentil recipe from April Bloomfield’s book, “A Girl and Her Pig”. I followed your directions and the results were amazing! I only started cooking lentils a few years ago, when I chose to incorporate more vegetable and grain-based recipes into my diet.
    As for the cover on April’s book, at first I was wondering about her choice; upon reading her book, I totally understood. People should be aware of where their food comes from and support local farmers and chefs who cook ‘snout to tail’.

  152. I came across this recipe via a reference to it on Lia Huber’s site (nourishnetwork.com). What a great find! I loved making it, looking at it, and, of course, eating it. Absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe to the letter. The only change I’ll make next time is to add the dressing a bit at a time, in between tossing, to ensure I haven’t over-dressed the salad. I’d never used preserved lemons and wasn’t sure how to get peel only from the squishy thing. I wound up using a vegetable peeler that I use specifically for soft fruits and vegetables–worked perfectly. I also followed the advice of many preserved lemon fanciers and rinsed the lemon well before I removed the peel. Thank you for this new favorite salad and for this artful blog.

  153. Made this for the second time tonight, because I love it. Such a mouthful of delicious fullness!

    Anyway, I saved a bowl, so I thought you might like to know about it. I mixed the dressing in the large salad bowl, and tossed the lentils with the chickpeas and salt back in the pot the lentils had been cooked in. Then I just put all that in on top of the dressing in the big bowl, and added the onion/feta mix. Hooray for less washing up!

  154. Mmm, I made this last night, and knew it would be delicious because I love ALL of these flavors. My 1.5 year old daughter does, too – she wolfed down two bowls. I added extra lemon juice, lots of extra herbs (at least doubled, both cilantro and parsley because I had them already), and extra feta (but no additional salt). I served it with some lamb sausage. I brought the leftovers for lunch and am trying to distract myself from eating them now!!

  155. Deb, this might be a ridiculous question, but if you use a coffee grinder for grinding spices can you still use it for coffee beans or does the taste of the spices linger? How do you clean it? I was thinking about buying one if I could use it for both coffee and spices. (I live in Belgium and am picturing the old fashioned ones I’ve seen in flea markets but is yours electric?)

    1. Jenny — I don’t use the same one. Well, I don’t grind coffee anymore, or make it, because I’m lazy, so I just use my old cheap grinder for spices. Cleaning instructions would be from the manufacturer. Mine isn’t really supposed to get wet, but I find I can quick rinse it if I dry it well. But I wouldn’t want to muddle the flavors of coffee with fennel and cumin.

  156. this is my at work lunch meal this week. i added toasted sunflower seeds for texture. now i’m looking forward to monday!

  157. This is one of my favorite recipes. I make it all the time, it’s easy and so incredibly delicious. It’s great to make the day before and assemble the day of when I have a bunch of guests too, always a huge hit.

  158. This was so good! Though, I must say somewhat under-appreciated by my dinner guests. I think because it wasn’t very pretty. Next time I’ll probably leave the herbs and sesame to sprinkle on the top. I had just mixed it all in. And, I just used pre-ground spices. I can see where fresh would be amazing, but didn’t have the time.

  159. Made this last night, except excluded the lentils, and added grated carrots, and served warm. Amazing, just wanted to share! I’m sure its just as good with the lentils.

  160. This looks delicious! I feel so-so on Feta– whenever possible, I sub something else. Would goat cheese go well with these flavors do you think?

  161. Just went and got “A Girl and Her Pig” from the library after reading this. My favorite line thus far, “Remember, it’s easy to make simple food taste great– as long as you don’t f*** it up.” This should be fun.

  162. I happened to have nearly everything in the house to make this (including the preserved lemon!). All I had to do was buy chick peas. Sadly my sage did survive the winter. No matter, it’s great without it. I’m glad I doubled the recipe right off the bat, because my husband and I couldn’t stop picking at it and forking up just one more mouthful. This would be outstanding alongside a grilled leg of lamb.

  163. Wow. I saved this recipe for today when I had time to linger over it, and you are not kidding about the depth of flavor. I even managed to find preserved lemons at Whole Foods! I didn’t realized they’d been preserved with chilis, so I used about half of what’s called for and it gave the final product a nice, very subtle, kick of heat. This one’s a winner – Thanks!