Now you may be thinking…. okay… green lentils are easy enough to find but wait, Poor Girl – where the heck does one even find Israeli couscous? Will I need a passport?
Don’t worry, I don’t like to make stuff with ingredients that are impossible to find (or impossibly expensive). Though this is still one of the darlings of health food and specialty food stores, it is starting to reach the specialty aisles of regular grocery stores. It’s a little pricier than regular couscous. At Trader Joe’s it goes for about $3.99/12 oz. and you can find it in the bulk section of stores like Whole Foods for roughly the same cost. One cup of the dry product yields around 1½ to 2 cups of cooked couscous, so you can stretch this out for a couple of different meals if you like. If you can’t find Israeli couscous at your store, no worries! You can use regular couscous instead, or even try orzo if you want to get a similar texture. The greatest thing about this salad – aside from how healthy & tasty it is – is how much you end up with from using just 1 cup of cous cous and 1 cup of lentils. The whole recipe costs just about $5.50 and will feed at least four people! Not too shabby, eh? And now, on with the show.
French Green Lentil & Israeli Couscous Salad (serves 4; total cost per serving: $1.35)
1 c dry Israeli couscous
½ c dry French green lentils
2 c water
½ medium red onion, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
½ T finely chopped parsley
½ t finely chopped cilantro
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T olive oil
½ t minced shallot
Dash of granulated garlic
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c crumbled feta
Bring 1 cup of lightly salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Boil for about 2 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for about 9-10 minutes, checking to make sure the couscous has not become too soft. The water should be completely absorbed but if there is any remaining, simply drain it off. At the same time, combine the green lentils and the remaining cup of water in a separate saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Do not salt the lentils while cooking! This will toughen them and make them almost impossible to eat, so wait until they are finished cooking to season them with a dash of salt and a dash of granulated garlic. Cool both the lentils and the couscous and set aside.
Prepare the simple dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, mined shallot and salt & pepper. When the lentils & couscous have cooled, put them in a large bowl and add the chopped onions, tomatoes, parsley and cilantro, and toss together gently. Add the dressing and mix until completely combined. Serve on its own or on a bed of greens, sprinkle some crumbled feta on top, and enjoy!