I am enthralled with my new “signed” (lol!) cookbook by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen. The stories that accompany the recipes make this read much more than a cookbook. While I like to read recipes and I study them, I rarely follow them as outlined. I am a bit of rogue and tend to “follow my nose” as the French say. I adapted the recipe for “French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts” recipe out of need and experimentation. I went to store for the ingredients and could not find walnuts only mixed nuts. And I also thought a bit of crumbled ham or bacon would enhance the flavor. The bacon can be omitted for a vegetarian version. So here is my version of a Green Lentil Salad.
For the Lentil Salad:
1.5 cups of Green Lentils
1 bay leaf
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3-4 strips of good heavy cut bacon (nitrate free) — Optional
1 cup of mixed nuts (not salted), walnuts or pecans
1 cup of crumbled Goat Cheese
For the Dressing:
1 Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/4 Teaspoons of Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup of Olive Oil ( or you can use an equal part of Walnut Oil)
1 small shallot, finely diced
Directions to prepare the lentils:
1. Cook the lentils in a saucepan with a generous amount of lightly salted water and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 -15 minutes (or see package directions).
2. Finely chop the carrot and shallot. Add to the lentils simmering the pot at about the 10 minute mark and then cook the lentil mixture for an additional 10 minutes. Taste the lentils as you do not want them to become mushy.
3. While the lentil mixture is simmering, prepare the salad dressing and crisp the bacon. Combine all the salad dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. Set aside. Crisp the bacon (oven, pan or microwave – your method of choice) and set aside, degrease with a paper towel and dice.
4. When lentil mixture is ready, drain it well and add it to the salad dressing that was prepared in the large bowl. Combine well.
5. Add the diced bacon, the nuts and top with the goat cheese. Season to taste with ground black pepper and sea salt.
This salad refrigerates well and can be made in advance or makes a meal two days in a row. Serve with a good crusty bread and a glass of chilled Rose. Enjoy!