Recipe Source: 100 Best Fresh Salads. Love Food, Parragon Boods Ltd. 2007
Sooo I didn’t quite make it to 5 posts during VegWeek, but I’m still committed to getting there! Here is your recipe #4 of 5.
About a year ago, I developed an aversion to traditional, lettuce-based salads. The thought of them was completely unappealing to me. And while I’ve somewhat gotten over that, I still appreciate a unique salad. This one is definitely different, and complex, just the way I like my recipes! It has a great Mediterranean influence… the lentils give it a hearty feeling and work well with the spinach base. I feel like spinach alone can be a bit dense at times, but it’s so healthy for you, I try to eat it over romaine or other less nutritive greens.
I only changed this recipe slightly, to keep the red onions raw (I detest carmelized or otherwise slimy onions!) and use less of them. I also used walnut oil instead of hazelnut oil, because I couldn’t find hazelnut.
To start, you’ll saute garlic, fresh ginger root, and cumin seeds in oil over a medium flame. This mixture smells like heaven… or at least, what my foodie heaven might smell like. 🙂 I like to keep my dice somewhat large on the garlic and ginger, so they’ll hold their own during a long cooking time with the lentils.
After a few minutes, add in the red lentils and stir to coat with the oil already in the pan, then add vegetable stock a ladle at a time, letting the mixture dry out slightly between ladles.
After all the stock has absorbed into the lentils (about 20 minutes), remove from heat and stir in chopped fresh cilantro and mint.
In a large bowl, toss spinach, finely sliced red onion, and walnut oil to taste. In another bowl, mash goat cheese and Greek yogurt together, and season with fresh cracked black pepper. To assemble the salad, top the spinach and onions with the lentil mixture, then add a dollop of the goat cheese mixture on top of that. This recipe could easily be made vegan by omitting the goat cheese, but I think the creaminess makes a really nice complement to the spices in the lentils.
RECIPE – Warm Red Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
1 1/2 cups split red lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon hazelnut oil
6 oz. soft goat cheese
4 tablespoons strained plain yogurt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Heat half the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the cumin seeds, garlic, and gingerroot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Stir in the lentils, then add the stock, a ladlefull at a time, until it is all absorbed, stirring constantly – this will take about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.
Toss the spinach in the hazelnut oil in a bowl, then divide among 4 serving plates.
Mash the goat cheese with the yogurt in a small bowl and season to taste with pepper.
Divide the lentils among the serving plates and top with the onions and goat cheese mixture.