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