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Lentil and Rice Salad with Feta and Parsley

This Lentil and Rice Salad with Feta and Parsley is one of my all-time favorite grain and legume salads for spring through fall (these long, sunny days have my mouth watering for spring!).  It is delicious warm or chilled, so it is easy to make ahead or bring on a picnic or to a potluck.  Simple to make, nourishing and delicious it’s sure to please any crowd – I get some of the best reviews from kiddos!

As a complete protein, this dish makes a great main course served with sliced tomatoes, grilled vegetables or greens.  It also makes a lovely side dish to accompany a larger meal.  You will want to soak the lentils and the rice ahead of time, so be sure to plan accordingly!

Ingredients

2 cups dry French lentils
3 cups brown basmati rice
3 cups water
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried currants
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
3/4 cup chopped fresh scallions
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
a few twists of freshly ground pepper

Soak the lentils in enough water to cover by about 6 inches for 6 – 10 hours or overnight.  Soak the rice in enough water to cover by about 2 inches for 6 – 10 hours or overnight.

Drain the lentils and rice from their soaking water.  Combine the lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, skim any foam off the top, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 – 8 minutes until the lentils taste cooked but are still firm.  Combine rice with 3 cups of water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to the lowest possible setting, cover and cook undisturbed until all water has evaporated, about 20 – 30 minutes.  Once the rice has cooked, turn off the heat and let rest, covered, for 15 – 30 minutes.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until they turn golden begin to pop, about 2 – 4 minutes.

To prepare the dressing, combine all ingredients and shake or mix well, taste for salt and adjust seasonings as desired.  Remember the finished dish will also be made salty by the feta cheese.

Drain lentils and combine with rice (rice and lentils can be freshly cooked and still warm or cooled to room temperature), toasted pumpkin seeds, currants, parsley, scallions, feta and pre-mixed dressing.  Mix well and serve immediately or chill to serve later.  Will last for 3 – 5 days in the refrigerator.

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