Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chopped Lentil Salad with Swiss Chard, Tomato & Egg

For the first time in history, my staunch loyalty towards Trader Joe's faced the possibility of falter. I have to get this off my chest: I've been cheating my on my #1 grocery store. Oh Trader Joe's, our relationship is so deep (into my wallet), and I've spent so much time with you (on your never-ending lines), but I never thought I'd stray! Until a new guy came to town—intriguing and irresistible, plunked right down next to my Chelsea office.

Enter Fairway, novel and handsome with his giant olive bar, massive cheese display, Polar seltzer cornucopia  and impossibly soft baguettes—all without the maze of a line that I've spent weeks (possibly months) waited oh so patiently on at TJ's. But as affairs go, I had to come crawling back to the one I love the most, tail between my legs. This Chopped Lentil Salad with Swiss Chard, Tomato & Egg recipe would not be possible without you, TJ.
The best thing about Trader Joe's is it's uncanny ability to create time-saving preparations of things you do at home, but don't think could exist prepackaged. Ready-to-serve hardboiled eggs? 20 minutes, back to you. Pre-cooked lentils? 40 minutes into your pocket. Cheap, hassle-free, and incredibly tasty (I could eat those steamed French lentils straight out of the bag), these two ingredients inspired this simple, easy, and QUICK make-for-the-week lunchtime salad.
This salad yields full, hearty Fall flavors that you'd never guess required 0 cooktime (because Trader Joe's did it for us!) Obviously, there's nothing wrong with preparing the eggs and lentils the good old fashioned way; I'm just presenting you with a time-saving alternate. The earthy lentils, leafy swiss chard, acidic tomato and mild egg make quite the dynamic combo, and the chopped nature of the salad promises you'll pick up the respective flavors in every bite. The marinade is simple and foolproof: grainy mustard, lemon juice and red or white wine vinegar, and  a touch of honey to give the sweetness of the swiss chard just one extra kick. Fresh dill delivers a refreshing, herby finish, plus lots of salty feta to complement the leafy greens.
Boasting incredible amounts of nutrients, fiber and protein, this salad remains rich and flavorful (the lentils deliver a lovely "warm" quality) while also extremely nutritious. As it keeps for an entire week, I recommend making it on Sunday night for the work week ahead—I promise you won't get bored!

Chopped Lentil Salad with Swiss Chard, Tomato & Egg
Makes 4-5 portions

1 cup lentils, cooked
1 bunch swiss chard (about 4-5 cups chopped)
3 scallions, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 tbsp crumbled feta
2 tbsp minced fresh dill
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
salt & pepper

1. If not using pre-steamed lentils, cook according to package directions. (Same goes for the hard-boiled eggs.) Set aside until lentils and eggs are cool.
2. In a medium sized skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped scallions and swiss chard (roughly chopped, stems removed) and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until swiss chard just begins to wilt. Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, combine the lentils, tomato, egg, feta, and dill. Toss in cooked scallions and swiss chard.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, mustard, and honey. Pour contents of small bowl into the large bowl, and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste (plus more feta cheese/chopped dill if desired.) Salad will keep for the entire week.

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