Monday, October 12, 2009

The Perfect Fall Salad!

Each week is turning out to be a mini-gourmet experience for me and my husband. Starting on Monday, I try to come up with some new cheese dish for this blog and/or The Cheese Shop Mysteries. Ah, research. Such an undertaking...not. It's so much fun! And tasty!

So this week, I saw a salad with zucchini and lentils in the local newspaper and I thought, gee, I like those things, but what else could I add to zing it up? Cubes of America Grana.

What is grana? It is a cow's milk and tastes and "acts" like parmesan. Hard, flavorful, grainy with a hint of fruitiness. It is offered by Bel Gioioso (found in local markets). The company started in 1979 when the owner's family moved from Italy to Wisconsin.

Anyway, I made the following salad, and, get this, my taste-tester husband said it's possibly the best salad he's ever had. He eats a lot of different salads, so I took that as a total compliment.

Remember, it's always fun to play with your food.

Take a recipe.
Put a spin on it.
You might find something you
absolutely adore because of one addition.
Be daring and enjoy!


Salad for two


1 small zucchini, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
1/4 cup lentils
1 Tbsp. chopped chives (do with scissors)
1 clove shallots, diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1 small tomato diced
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup torn arugula leaves
1 Tbsp. pine nuts
1 oz. Bel Gioioso American Grana, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


Dice zucchini, pour into colander, sprinkler with 1/2 tsp. salt and let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and boil in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain under cool water and dump onto a paper towel to drain.

Mix the lentils, chives, shallots, olive oil, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Stir in the zucchini, the chopped tomatoes and the vinegar. Fold in the arugula leaves, pine nuts and lentils.


If you prefer more arugula, this may be served on top of a bed of arugula. In that case, you might want to add another tablespoon of olive oil.
And if you'd like to learn more about The Cheese Shop Mysteries, come visit me and my growing cast of characters at Avery Aames website.
Say Cheese!


  1. And it's pretty, too! I wish my out of town guests hadn't left yesterday...this would have been perfect to serve them. I love chives and pine nuts--this looks like a winner!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. This is gorgeous!I planned to make a Lentil Salad this week and this looks like a keeper.

    I live in a small town with limited "exotic" food sources. LOL! I doubt that I could find Grana here. However, I think I could sub feta or even Goat Cheese for the Grana.


  3. Oh, Avery, that photo alone looks good enough to eat - love the colors. (Molly - your suggestions are great!)

    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. Molly, you can substitute Parmessan for Grana. It's truly the same flavor. Enjoy!

  5. Wow, this looks absolutely divine. My husband loves salads and I'll have to try this one for sure!

    Gorgeous picture!

    You are really whetting my appetite for your Cheese Shop Mysteries!


  6. I love heartier grain salads during this time of year. This one has a wonderful list of ingredients. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I think lentils have to be one of the most ignored foods -- and they're so good. I've never eaten raw, salted zucchini, though. I'll have to try it!