Sunday, September 20, 2015

Welcome guest author Molly MacRae!

The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, published by Penguin/NAL. Molly’s short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990. After twenty years in northeast Tennessee, Molly lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois.

Take it away, Molly!

A Lentil Salad to Make You Stand Up and Cheer

If you’re old enough to remember lentil salads of the health-conscious 70s, 80s, and 90s, then you’re probably backing away from this blog right now. The lentil salads I remember from that era were so . . . well-intentioned. People were on the right track, but it was a narrow track that didn’t go anywhere exciting. That’s always bothered me, because I like lentils. I love the peppery smell when they’re simmering on the stove. For years I’ve felt sure that someone, somewhere, could lift lentil salad out  
of the doldrums.

Enter Melody Gresham, owner of Mel’s on Main, the best (the only) café in Blue Plum Tennessee in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Mel tackled the problem of the namby-pamby lentil salad the way she tackles any difficult problem – with her spiked hair rampant and chef’s knife in hand. The lentil salad Mel wrestled to the ground is full of bright flavors and a toothsome mix of textures. Her salad makes a great main course for vegetarians and can be vegan if you omit the feta cheese. Mel took on the lentil salad and she won. And although you can’t go to Mel’s on Main to give it a try, you can make her salad easily enough at home. Here’s the recipe.



1 ½ cups brown or green lentils
2 small waxy potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
3 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Half a medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
6 radishes, sliced in thin rounds
Half a small red onion, finely diced (½ to ¾ cup)
Large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
Large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lime (1 ½ tablespoons)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Black pepper
2 avocados, cubed or sliced

Rinse the lentils and put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool.

Put the potatoes on a rimmed backing sheet, drizzle with ½ tablespoon of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven until tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Cool.

Combine the cooled lentils, potatoes, cucumber, radishes, onion, mint, parsley, and feta in a salad bowl. Add the lime juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1teaspoon salt and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Toss well. Top with avocado and serve.


Do you have memories of lackluster health foods from years gone by? Can you think of a recipe you’d like Mel to tackle and give more punch? Leave your answer – and your email – in a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Each book has two recipes and a knitting pattern. 

You can find out more about Molly at You can find her blogging on the first and on the 23rd of each month at
Monday of each month at

Follow Molly on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter @mollymacrae1


  1. I don't know about ever being healthy but Chicken Salad is something I have worked with for years to bring some zest to AND make healthier...I am adding greek yogurt and fruit in place of mayonnaise...Please enter me in the contest...

    1. Greek yogurt and fruit are great additions to chicken salad, Mari! I've had it with apples, grapes, and raisins. I bet mango would be fantastic! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Do you have any great recipes involving avocados? I'm not a big fan of bananas (used as a natural sweetener), and we have a lot of raw organic honey. So far we have made 3 different recipes (pudding, drink, and as a sauce with noodles).
    Thank you for the recipe and giveaway.

    1. Hi! Jen. Maybe I can help. Haas Avocados has a web site with a lot of ideas for avocados. You can bake the, roast them. Make sauces with them. As a sauce for noodles, Chicken Avocado Enchiladas is good. Or Chicken and Avocado burritos. Better Homes and Garden also put several ideas and recipes for them in their August 3rd newsletter. I mash, add a little salt and pepper and plain greek yogurt and use as a spread for sandwiches as a healthier alternative to mayo or butter. My address is if you need more info. Be glad to help.

    2. I LOVE avocados. Thanks, so much, for a great answer to Jen's question!

  3. I love lentils. It's amazing that we don't do more with them. They're so good for us! I'm going to try your salad, Molly. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Let me know how you like it, Krista. The mint and lime are sparkling additions to the other flavors. Thanks for having me as a guest today. I'm in constant awe of the recipes you all post!

  4. (Waving at Molly. Hey, you stole my cat!) Julia Child introduced me to lentils, a long time ago, but I've almost always made the hot version. I'll have to try them in a salad! As for healthy foods, I'm still trying to figure out why so many people like kale. It tastes like wrapping paper to me.

    1. The cat was a stray who jumped into my arms out in California, Sheila. He purred and kneaded, and then he left. What a sweetie! As for kale . . . it's another nice salad addition raw. I've never tried kale chips, though, and am a little suspicious. But if someone wants to convince that they're fantastic, I'll be happy to try them.

    2. I like kale in soups and stews and as a side dish.
      I thought kale chips sounded like a great idea.
      Not for me, they weren't!

    3. I need to try kale in soup this winter!

  5. Don't know that I have ever eaten lentils, may have to give them a try. Guess it's sad to say I can't think of any healthy recipes. I try to drink more water, but that's a challenge. Your book sounds great!!

    1. Give lentils a try, Judy. A nice thing about them is they're cheap. If you buy a little bag and hate them, it's no big deal to toss the rest. But you might like them! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. My mother thought cottage cheese with canned peaches was the best for your diet. Didn't matter if you were trying to loose weight or just eat healthy - guess she didn't read the can.

    1. I remember those days! Cottage cheese and canned fruit was the staple on restaurant menus in the "diet" column.


    I would be interested in avocados as well. Love them but need additional recipes.

    1. Scroll up to see the great answer about avocados from "Not Really" who says the Haas Avocados website has a lot of ideas