I have issues with lentils. I want to like them, I really do. The colors and the cute little disc shape never fail to attract my eye when I peruse the bulk food bins. But I never seem to manage to make anything very good with lentils. At best, I make something that’s fine, perfectly edible, but consumed with little enthusiasm. That was the case with this lentil dish, a recent effort in my attempts to improve my diet just a touch by eating grain-rich salads. I had gotten off to a strong start with a couple of tasty quinoa-based salads over the last couple of weeks and maybe, just maybe, I got a little cocky, deciding that it was high time to add lentils to the menu.
Since my last cringe-inducing attempt at lentils, I’d somehow decided that the problem was the lentil varieties I’d been using; maybe if I tried the little green French lentils (or lentilles de puy) rather than the brown or red ones I’d previously used, I’d have better luck. And I will say I liked them better, especially after heavily salting the cooking water, but there’s still something about lentils that just strikes me as too bland and mushy to be the basis for a salad. I’ve had a couple of terrific lentil soups and stews, including the one Dylan makes from The New Best Recipe, but I’ve been decidedly underwhelmed by lentil salads. Anyone have any favorite lentil salad recipes that will change my mind?
In this salad from Bon Appetit, October 1995 (via Epicurious), the fairly mushy lentils were saved mainly by a generous helping of chevre on top, which gave each bite a creamy tang to go along with the lentilly mush. The dressing was perfectly nice as well, and had I made the whole thing with another grain (maybe barley?), I think I could even recommend it. Ah well, next time…
LENTIL SALAD WITH TOMATOES AND CHEVRE (serves 4)
1 cup French green lentils (lentilles de Puy)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/3 cups diced seed peeled cucumber
2/3 cup diced seeded plum tomatoes
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), chilled
1. Cook lentils in medium pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Combine vinegar, shallot and mustard in large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add lentils. Let stand until cool.
2. Add cucumber, tomatoes, onion, dill, parsley and garlic to lentils. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; chill 1 hour.
3. Crumble goat cheese over salad and mix gently to combine.