Puy lentil salad with goat’s cheese, beets, and a dill vinaigrette

Preparation time
20 minutes

Cooking time
15 –20 minutes

Serves
4 as starter
2 as main course


Lentilles du Puy are grown in the sunny, volcanic Auvergne. The hot climate and mineral-rich soil give them a unique taste and texture, and they are known in France as poor man’s caviar. They contain less starch than ordinary green lentils, so they hold their shape better: no mushy lentilles du Puy. Traditionally they are boiled in water, then fried with some chopped onion and lardons. I tend to improvise with ingredients I have in the fridge: they make a fine accompaniment to almost anything.

 
By Rachel Khoo
From The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Puy lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cooked beet, peeled
  • a handful of baby salad leaves (optional)
  • 7 oz fresh soft goat’s cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil

For the dill vinaigrette:

  • ½ bunch of dill
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt
  • a pinch of sugar

Method

TO MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE: Whizz the dill (stalks included) in a blender with the oil, vinegar, ½ tsp salt, and the sugar. Taste and add more salt if desired.

  1. Wash the lentils in cold running water, then put them into a large pot with the bay leaf, thyme, and a generous pinch of salt. Cover the lentils with at least double their volume of boiling water and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.
  2. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife to thinly slice the beet.
  3. Drain the lentils and discard the bay leaf and thyme.
  4. Divide the lentils equally between individual plates (or you could use a large serving dish) and scatter over the salad leaves (if using). Place the beet slices on top and crumble over the goat’s cheese. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and a little olive oil, and finish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

* If you prefer a stronger-tasting cheese, try feta or a hard goat’s cheese.

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