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French lentil salad with walnuts and goat cheese

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The Runaway Spoon

(Read caption) This easy do-ahead salad requires chilling the cooked lentils for at least eight hours. It also works well as leftovers or lunch the next day.

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When the weather turns chilly, it may seem that the time for cold salads has past. But this lovely, homey lentil salad is perfect for fall. The ingredients for this could not be humbler, but somehow the whole comes off as sophisticated. This is the kind of dish I imagine a French home cook would whip up if you just dropped by unexpectedly.

This salad is great beside a grilled piece of pork or a roasted chicken. It makes a great lunch with a piece of crusty bread, and can easily be packed to take to the office or a picnic. For company, I toss the nuts, herbs and cheese in right before serving, but the leftovers, or a fresh batch just for you, are great sitting in the fridge for a few days as you snack out of the bowl.

Walnut oil can be a bit pricey, but it is a wonderful treat to give salads and dressings a nutty zing. Something about it adds to the French-ness of this salad.  You can use olive oil, either as half the oil or all of it. French green lentils, or lentils de puy, are the perfect for salads because they cook up tender but still retain their shape. These lentils used to be only found at gourmet shops or mail-order, but I have finally shared this recipe because I now find them regularly in the organic grains aisle at my large grocery store.

French lentil salad with walnuts and goat cheese

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