Monday, December 18, 2006

Greek Lentil and Orzo Salad with Pita Crisps



I just made this because I didn't want a meaty meal and I was in a hurry (not to mention that lentils and orzo make a very affordable meal per portion). We're packing for our holiday vacation today and the house is a wreck. This hit the spot and the kids actually loved it - despite the fresh onion and red bell pepper in it. The sauce and feta on top is the trick. With the pita chips, the whole meal becomes a fun and festive Greek "dip"! Follow these easy steps to a QUICK meatless Greek meal.

Pita Crisps
2 pita pocket breads
nonstick cooking spray

Salad
1 tblsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry lentils, rinsed
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
6 oz. (3/4 cup) uncooked orzo or rosamarina (rice shaped pasta)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced kalamata or ripe black olives
1/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
Dash each or to taste after done cooking (after draining): cumin, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, pepper, garlic powder, coriander, and parsley flakes.

Dressing and Topping
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cucumber, well drained
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
dash salt and celery salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I use sun-dried tomato & basil flavored feta)

Instructions
1. If you make your own pita crisps, you can use this step. If you have a bag of Stacey's Pita Chips, you can skip this step!... Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut each pita into 6 wedges. Separate each wedge into 2 layers. Arrange wedges, rough side up, in single layer on ungreased cookie sheet. Spray generously with nonstick cooking spray (I would use a brush with olive oil rather than spray). Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned.

2. In large skillet, heat oil (I used a tad bit more - see step 6) over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and lentils; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until lentils are golden brown. Add water, salt, garlic salt, cumin and pepper. Cover; cook 20-25 minutes or until lentils are tender but NOT mushy, stirring occasionally.

3. In medium bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber and dill. Mix well and set in refrigerator to chill and allow flavors to blend while you continue cooking.

4. Chop veggies (onions, bell pepper, olives) and set aside.

5. Cook orzo to desired doneness as directed on package (this only takes about 7 minutes and I would coat with a dab of butter or olive oil if you have to set them aside because the pasta 'grains' tend to stick). Don't overcook - no mushy orzo! Drain your pasta and set aside until lentils and veggies are ready.

6. Drain off any excess liquid from lentils after you have tasted a few and they are tender enough to eat, but not splitting and mushy. I had to boil mine for about 2 minutes after I let them simmer 20. I also used a tad bit extra of olive oil (maybe an extra 1/2 tblsp), and it came in handy when I mixed the rest of the ingredients together to use the oil left in the pan. Turn off the heat entirely and use the lentil pan to mix your ingredients. Touch up seasonings (see last item on ingredient list for salad).

7. Put serving portions on plates and line outside of plate with pita chips. Serve each portion with a generous spoonful of sauce and a tablespoon of crumbled (with fork) feta on top. Scoop up meal with pita chips or eat with fork. You could also pack a warm fresh pita with this mixture and eat it like a Greek burrito. YUMM!!!


Altered recipe from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks - Apr. 1997 - #194 - "Pasta Beans & Rice Cookbook" (from grocery store check-out line).

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5 comments:

Recipes-Blogcu said...

Thank you for your excellent recipes.

Sprittibee said...

Hey, thanks for your kind comments. I'm just keeping my favorites all in one place. The blog came in handy this weekend when I had to cook my Sweet Potato Casserole and Richard's Green Beans for Christmas Eve dinner. Everyone loved it (well, those who like sweet potato that would try it, that is!).

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

This looks delish! I'm adding it to our menu now! :)

Diana from Of The Princess and The Pea who doesn't feel like going through the hassle of logging into her google-blogger account. :)

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Diana. ;) I hope you will tell me how you like it. Sorry I'm just getting in here to respond. I am making this dish today for lunch. :)

Miss Rachel said...

Interesting... Will have to try it some time. I have a recipe for pita bread, so this would give me good reason to make some. :) LOL

Miss you all, and give that little one a hug from me. (And Morgan/Kaden, and you of course!)

Rachel