Thursday, 9 September 2010

Puy lentil salad with goats cheese

I love a filling salad, and I eat them all year around, in particular for lunch. Lentils are one of my favourite pulses, for salads I prefer the small slightly spicy puy lentils whereas for soups I prefer the softer red lentils. Lentils, in contrast to most dried beans, don't need to be soaked prior to cooking and cook quite quickly. This salad is beautiful together with chicken or steak, but will also be very good on it's own. It also holds quite well for a couple of days in case you make a larger batch or get any leftovers, and is delicious both slightly warm and cold.

I do this salad a lot with slight variations. I quite often add some mustard, a little bit of sugar, and finely chopped fresh tarragon instead of the blushed tomatoes, and add Parmesan cheese instead of goats cheese. Or add other salad leaves like spinach. Or add chopped dry fruit like apricots and toasted cashews. Or finely chopped coriander, lime juice and zest and finely chopped red chili for a more Asian flavour.

Puy lentil salad with goats cheese (4-6 portions)
200-250 g puy lentils
4 bay leaves
chicken, beef or vegetable stock
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
one bag of rocket leaves
250 g blushed tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
150-200g soft goats cheese
zest and juice from one lemon
1 finely chopped red onion
2-3 finely chopped garlic cloves
1-2 handfuls of chopped fresh basil
1 sprig of finely chopped fresh rosemary
finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Start by rinsing the lentils in cold water and then boil in stock together with the bay leaves. Drain the lentils when they're soft but still slightly chewy, this should take 20-30 min, and remove the bay leaves.

During the time it takes to boil the lentils, finely chop the red onion, herbs, garlic and blushed tomatoes. Mix with the still warm lentils and also stir in the lemon juice and zest, capers, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. As the lentils are still warm, they will soak up a lot of the lovely flavours from the garlic, lemon and the other goodies.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add to the salad. Once the salad is slightly warm/room temperature, add the roughly chopped rocket. Add salt and pepper according to taste, top with chunks of goats cheese and serve.

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