Cook the pasta for this salad al dente, Italian for "to the tooth." When bitten into, the shells should be tender but slightly firm, not soft. To retain their shape and texture in the salad, the lentils should also be tender but firm, too.
For a Greek lentil salad, use orzo pasta in place of the shells and add one 6-ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained, to the salad along with a handful of Greek olives. Sprinkle the salad with 1/4 cup (1 ounce) of crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh oregano.
Serve this salad with sliced ripe tomatoes and warm pita bread.