Most Ikarians are Greek Orthodox, and their religion calls for them to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. This means no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy—but beans are just fine. In Thea’s kitchen, Fridays are lentil days, and Ikarians have a prescribed method for preparing them. To start, they don’t have the habit of sautéing only aromatics (garlic and onion) first. Instead, they cook all the ingredients together, so the oil doesn’t burn. It turns out that science is validating Ikarian cooking wisdom: After olive oil hits the smoking point (at around 320 degrees), it starts to give off fumes and the oil decomposes to negatively affect the food’s flavor. This cooked lentil salad, which can be an entrée or a side dish, is simple to make and tastes even better the next day. Enjoy this as a meal with feta, good bread, and olives.
1 pound dried lentils
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper (optional)
White wine vinegar, for serving
Rinse the lentils, then pour into a large soup pot with bay leaves.
Cover with water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and done.
Remove bay leaves and drain.
In a pan, sauté cooked lentils, garlic, onion, and carrot together in olive oil over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.
Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
Top with a splash of vinegar before serving.
The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. The Blue Zones’ food tradition is going the way of the dodo bird, thanks to the encroachment of the American Food Culture.Learn More