Lentil and chèvre salad

January 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

This is a sort of French-inspired dish I came up with once I realized that my request for “some more lentils” was interpreted as “LENTIL SHORTAGE!!!” by my mother when my parents last came to visit – if I haven’t mentioned it before, we do rather have a tendency to stock up on things in my family.

So, to begin cooking through several pounds of lentils, I figured why not make a lentil salad to start?

My mom brought me several kinds of lentils, but for the best texture, I recommend using puy lentils for this salad. As I mentioned in my last lentil-centric post’s comments section, lentilles de puy are a type of lentil that remain firmer than their reddish relatives and therefore work really well in pilaf and salad situations where you can best enjoy their nutty earthiness and toothsome texture.

To complement their earthy flavor, I added the light grassiness of dill and chives, plus a nice vinaigrette made from champagne vinegar and olive oil. Then, while rummaging around the refrigerator while letting the lentils rest I discovered some nice goat cheese, or chèvre, and crumbled it in, since I love fresh dill and chèvre together. I think it adds a certain creaminess too, to the texture of the salad, plus a bit of luxuriousness.

Other than boiling water and then cooking the lentils, this is a fairly hands-off salad to assemble. Even if it isn’t traditionally French I think it makes a lovely complement to any French dish you might serve, and is a bit lighter than a soup or stew, but still just as comforting. For a light lunch I recommend serving alongside a nice crusty baguette or even some sourdough bread.

Lentil and chèvre salad

Serves six as a light lunch or side

Ingredients

  • Three cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • One cup dried puy lentils, picked through to remove any stones or debris
  • A pinch of salt
  • One tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • One tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Five tablespoons or so of olive oil
  • Three tablespoons fresh chives, finely sliced
  • Three tablespoons fresh dill, stems removed (about three to four sprigs)
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • About two ounces chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled

1. In a pot, bring four cups of water, a pinch of salt, the lentils, and the garlic to a boil. Place a lid on top, but slightly askew, and cook the lentils for about twenty-five minutes, or until lentils are soft but still retain their shape. There will be some water in the pot still. Drain the lentils carefully (I would recommend using a mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth). Discard any large chunks of garlic.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil.

3. After letting the lentils cool for about ten minutes, mix in the herbs and vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and correct the vinaigrette if needed (I added a touch more lemon juice). Let the lentils and vinaigrette sit together for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

4. Crumble in the goat cheese and enjoy immediately!

Note: For a prettier presentation you could crumble the cheese onto each individual plate (or on top of the salad), rather than stirring it in as I did. I admit I forgot how the lovely creaminess of chèvre rather makes everything stick to it!

Also, the lentils can be prepared a day or so in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator, as can the vinaigrette, stored separately. I recommend bringing them to room temperature before continuing with step 3.

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