Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats’ Cheese

I am submitting this delicious Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats’ Cheese for the next Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anna from Anna’s Cool Finds. This delicious salad is flavoured with thyme and bay leaf.  Both of these herbs are common in Croatian cooking.

Thyme grows wild in the small pine wood behind my house in Dalmatia. It is tiny, and has small pretty, purple flowers that have an amazing fragrance. That’s how I think of thyme. It’s called majcina dusica (pronounced ‘maytchina dushitsa’ in English), and it means  ‘mother’s little soul’, but it could be loosely (very loosely) translated as ‘mother’s little honey’. I’m not sure about the etymology of the name, and I couldn’t find anything about it one the Internet. The leaves are used in cooking, or for making tea. (I also know a wicked joke linked to majcina dusica, but I better give it a miss here! Anyhow, it doesn’t work very well in English.)  

This lovely salad can be served at buffets and parties, and it also makes a great lunch. IT can be made vegan by omitting the goats cheese. We had it for dinner with some crusty bread, and it was fantastic! Check the verdict section for more info on what we thought about it. The recipe is below!

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Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats’ Cheese

 

SOURCE: Delia Smith’s Winter Collection

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: 20 – 30 min

SERVES: 4

Ingredients

8 oz (225 g) Puy lentils (green or brown variety will work just as well)
1½ oz (40 g) walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 fat clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the dressing:

2 crottin goats’ cheese or 4 oz (110 g) of any other firm goats’ cheese
1 fat clove garlic, peeled
1 level teaspoon sea salt
1 rounded teaspoon powdered mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 oz (30 g) rocket leaves
freshly milled black pepper

METHOD

First you need to cook the lentils. To do this, heat the oil in a medium saucepan and when it’s hot, lightly fry the chopped walnuts for about 1 minute. Then remove them with a draining spoon to a plate and keep them aside for later.

Now to the oil left in the pan, add the onion and crushed garlic and let these cook and soften for about 5 minutes. After that, stir in the lentils, bay leaf and thyme and make sure they all get a good coating with oil. Next add 10 fl oz (275 ml) of boiling water, but don’t add any salt – just put a lid on, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and let the lentils cook for 30-40 minutes or until they’re tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. You really need to bite one to test if they’re done.

While the lentils are cooking you can prepare the dressing. Use a pestle and mortar and crush the garlic with the salt until it’s creamy, then add the mustard and work that into the garlic paste. After that, whisk in the balsamic vinegar, followed by the oils. Then season well with freshly milled black pepper.

As soon as the lentils are cooked, add salt to taste. Empty them into a warm serving bowl and while they’re still hot, pour the dressing over. Give everything a good toss and stir, then crumble the goats’ cheese all over and add the rocket leaves, torn in half. Give everything one more toss and stir, and serve straight away with the walnuts scattered over.

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Verdict

Delicious combination of different structures and flavours! Crunchy walnuts and salad leaves created a great contrast with creamy goats’ cheese and lentils. I loved the slightly sour notes of the balsamic vinegar combined with lentils, cheese and aromatic thyme and bay leaf. We will definitely have it again!

While the lentils were cooking, they were oozing delicious aromas. I tasted them, and they were gorgeous! We could have stopped cooking there and then, and had the lentils cooked with onion and herb only! I suggest you do the same!

We enjoyed the dressing, too, and we might use it again with different salads.

All in all, thumbs up for good old Delia!🙂

Notes

We didn’t add rocket to the salad, but served the lentils on a bed of salad. Also, we used green lentils instead of Puy lentils, and soft goats’ cheese instead of hard goats’ cheese (hence the photos). This added extra creaminess to the structure, and the flavour of cheese permeated the whole salad. The result was very very rich in flavour. Next time we will try and use hard goats’ cheese, as suggested by Delia, to add more variety of flavour into different bites of the dish!

What I would do differently next time

This is only a tentative suggestion. I thought the walnuts were a little oily and turned out soft, and am thinking of either dry-roasting them next time, or not roasting them at all, to add more crunch to the texture. I will try frying them for less time, too. I think I might have done more than a minute this time.

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Random update:  have just realised this is my 50th post!🙂

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Other lentil and goats’ cheese recipes in the blogosphere:

Donna Hay’s Lentil and goats’ cheese tarts at Other people’s food

Bulgur and Lentil Salad with Tarragon, Almonds, and Goat Cheese at Savoury and Sweet

Spinach Salad with Lentils and Crisp Warm Goat Cheese at Serious Eats

Lentil Salad with Mint and Goat Cheese at Better Bites

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10 Comments

  1. How delicious – all my favourite flavours.

    Pleased you enjoyed it so much!

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  2. Maninas

     /  24 July, 2007

    Thanks!🙂 It really went down well with both of us!

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  3. Sounds great. I’m obsessed with goat’s cheese at the moment!

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  4. Congratulations on your 50th (post not birthday!!)

    This salad sound lovely and I have all the ingredients in my cupboard. A must try…

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  5. This sounds lovely, and I can imagine the beautiful thyme growing in the fragrant pine woods!

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  6. This sounds really good! I think I will try it. I have a lot of lentils in my cupboard. I love the Croatian name of thyme: very sweet. Can I add that I am one quarter Croatian? My maternal grandmother was born not far from Split.

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  7. This looks great, I have been meaning to to start cooking with lentils more often. Plus anything that include goat cheese can only be good!

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  8. I’ve made a lentil and walnut salad but using the creamy goat cheese – now that sounds like heaven! And the garlic and mustard must have added a nice kick… I would serve it on the greens, too.
    It’s on my list!

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  9. Forgot, Congrats on the big 50!

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  10. Sounds just completely delicious to me. I think you’re very lucky to find thyme growing wild too!

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