Frugal January Warm Lentil Salad

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Welcome to our first post of 2015! I hope all of you had an amazing Christmas season and are settling back in to  in the post festive world. Now that we have survived that wretched first week back to work it is time to really settle in to this New Year. My Christmas, back home in Cork, revolved as always around food so it is proving to be an adjustment to my system to try and get back in to a normal eating routine. I am sad that everyday can’t start with prossecco and smoked salmon, that lunch can’t always be a choice between the amazing soup my sister magiced up from the carcass of our roast goose or some glorious pate or that every meal isn’t accompanied by great wine and followed by cheese or trifle or pudding with a late evening gin and tonic to aid digestion.

Now that I am staring in to the long three weeks that remain until payday I am looking for recipes that won’t break the bank but are also tasty enough to not be a shock to my overly indulged system. I don’t really understand the logic of jumping straight into a diet in the New Year, I prefer to gradually wean myself away from luxury food by purging all the festive goodies that are left in my fridge and stretching them out to make as many dinners as I can. Thus a lovely camembert that was part of gift hamper was turned in to a camembert and leek tart and some goats cheese found a home in this lentil salad.

This warm lentil salad is from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz , this book was the first thing on my christmas list this year as I have been reading David Lebovitz’s blog for quite a while. While I do love the immediacy of checking out food writing on the internet there is still nothing like sitting down with some truly great food writing accompanied by beautiful recipes and I spent a good few pajama days curled on the couch with this book over the last few weeks. This is a very simple recipe that will be kind to frugal cooks and the salad is an good accompaniment to pretty much any meat, I paired it with some chicken breasts I baked in the oven with butter and lemon juice and it made a delicious simple meal that still felt indulgent with the goats cheese melting through and coating the lentils. This is also one of those dishes that is naturally gluten free so it didn’t take any adjusting or tweaking.

This makes a good sized bowl of lentil salad and will keep in the fridge for 2 days so if you aren’t going to use the whole salad at dinner then add the goats cheese to the portion of salad you are using and set aside the remaining cheese to use with the left overs.

The original recipe called for both walnuts and walnut oil but as I was trying to make do with what I had I didn’t use either, however I have used walnut oil in the past and I would recommend using it here if you can, I know that I am really looking forward to trying this post pay day when I can afford walnut oil!

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Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups of Puy Lentils
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs of thyme
1 carrot peeled and finely diced
1 rib of celery finely diced
I small red onion peeled and finely diced

Dressing

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 & 1/4 teaspoons of sea salt or maldon salt. If you are using table salt then add it to taste.
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 small shallot peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup of olive oil or half walnut oil half olive oil.

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To finish
Freshly found black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
130 grams of soft goats cheese to crumble over the top.

  •  Rinse the lentils and put them, with the herbs in a pot with plenty of salted water.
  •  Bring the pot to the boil and then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the lentils to cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add the diced vegetables and return the lid to the pot. Cook for an additional five to ten minutes until the lentils are cooked but not too soft., drain the lentils and remove the herbs.
  • Make the dressing by combing the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and diced shallot in a jar, seal the lid on the jar and give it a good shake, this will give you a well mixed dressing. Test for seasoning.
  • Put the lentils in a bowl and add the dressing while the lentils are still warm. Allow to cool a little, the lentils are best served warm or at room temperature. If you are adding all the cheese crumble it in to the lentils when they have cooled so that the cheese doesn’t melt and disappear. Stir through the chopped parsley and grind on some fresh black pepper.

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Not only was this a great dinner it has also provided me with at least two mid week lunches, you just need to reheat the lentils and add the remaining goats cheese.

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