Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit (and Lentil-Feta Salad Recipe)

Yesterday Spouse came home and said MEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT. So it’s clear, we need to eat more beans. Because we’re still trying to eat to save the planet, dammit (Janet!). (Oh, wow, speaking of a planet worth saving, I just saw a green woodpecker land on one of our trees. We hardly ever see green woodpeckers here. We met some friends for dinner two weeks ago and they’re also new-ish to life in the countryside (although they live much more city adjacent than we do and in an actual village, as opposed to a lone street out in the middle of nowhere) and the woman (Sabine) was saying how sweet she thought it was to live out in nature, until she realized that the green woodpecker in their garden was visiting all the sparrow’s nests in the birdhouses and hauling out and eating the little cheeping sparrow chicks. Now she HATES green woodpeckers.)

Anyway, underscoring the need to just keep on trucking with this doing the right thing was the article in today’s paper that Europe could switch to the far greener, pesticides and herbicides only as a last resort type of farming known as agroecology that would be needed to stop the current utterly terrifying crash in the population of insects (that is also resulting in a crash in the population of songbirds and then thus everything that eats songbirds, etc) and still manage to feed itself. BUT people need to cut way back on the grain fed meat, namely like beef, pork, and poultry.

The EAT-Lancet commission suggests that people eat between 0 and 100 grams of beans, peas, and lentils per day (obviously 0 if you are fatally allergic to them), or about 525 grams a week. Dry weight. Or about 285 kcal per day. That comes to 2000 kcal per week… which is to say one entire weekday you could eat nothing but beans! (Does that not sound fun?)  Or to put it less gut crampingly, one-seventh ish of your calories could/should be coming from what we in the English speaking world call legumes.

I am cooking some lentils right now. Lentils are never boring.

This is my favorite lentil recipe ever (we will not get into how sad it is that I have strong opinions about lentil recipes). I’ve slightly altered the recipe from one I was given in Y2K (Oh, my, god. 19 years ago! How did that happen?) by my friend Simon after he served it up one day and blew my then lentils, what?, no thank you mind.

Simon’s Lentil-Feta Salad, Adjusted

  • 8 oz (230 g) puy or beluga lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves (1 whole, 1 finely chopped)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • feta cheese
  • chopped fresh parsley as you can stand
  • coarsely chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cover lentils, bay leaf, red wine or apple cider vinegar, one whole garlic clove, and a bit of salt and pepper with 2 pints (1.1 liter) of water. Simmer until lentils are done (about 25 minutes).
  2. Drain. Toss bay leaf and garlic clove and, in the bowl you will serve it in, immediately add onion, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, the second garlic clove (chopped finely), and salt and pepper. Let that all stew together until it has cooled to room temperature.
  3. Because of the vinegar, this dish keeps best if you only add the remaining ingredients immediately before you eat them. So immediately before you eat the salad, add to the portion that you think will get immediately eaten as much chopped parsley, chopped tomatoes, and cubed or crumbled feta cheese as you’d like (my take on this is, MORE PARSLEY. WAY MORE PARSLEY. More, so much more than you could even possibly imagine would be good.).

Have you ever eaten tabouli made by someone who grew up in a true tabouli-eating culture? By volume their tabouli is like 75% fresh parsley and most of the rest is tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and mint with only the occasional kernel of couscous or bulgur wheat for your spoon or fork to stumble into. And it’s amazing.

I’m not saying the lentil-feta salad should be 75% parsley. It works for tabouli, but for the lentil-feta salad it would be several bridges too far. But don’t be shy about tossing it in there either. The original recipe calls for 3 Tbsp, but that is way too meager.



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