Spinach, and Goat Cheese Lentil Salad – this is my version of the satisfying French Lentil Salad, paired with none other than Naan bread and cilantro oil. I had to put my Indian stamp on it. Sorry France!
My Chef instructor mentioned it casually in class one day, that the French use lentils too. Le Puy lentils, the superior kind, according to him. I had seen these little packets of over-priced lentils at Whole Foods before and this revelation in class prompted me to go and buy them to see what was so special about them.
So began my research into this unique lentil. Le Puy lentils are green in color and are named for the region of Auvergne, France where they are cultivated. They differ from usual green/brown lentils because of their ability to retain their shape during and after the cooking process. Hence their popularity in salads. They also cook faster than their counterparts. They are also more chewier in texture and nutty, peppery in flavor because of the volcanic soil they grow in naturally.
I was curious, to say the least, about this lentil’s properties. One, it does not turn mushy how much ever you over cook them. I tried, believe me! Just for the heck it. Each lentil remains separate because of the lack of starch in them. Two, they are surprisingly (to me) wonderful to eat. I kept munching on them when I was making the salad. Three, they are wonderfully versatile, as in you can add all sorts of spices and flavors to them and they absorb it like sponge. As you will see from my recipe, I went a little crazy and had so much fun in adding them.
Note: Buy only Le Puy lentils. There are a lot of wanna-be’s in the market that claim to be the real deal. A good indicator is the price. These lentils are expensive when compared to the regular ones. And well worth it. Make them and you will think so too.
Now this recipe for Spinach, and Goat Cheese Lentil Salad seems like a lot of ingredients but they are all already in your pantry.