French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

This salad of French green lentils, crunchy vegetables and creamy goat cheese is deliciously wholesome. The recipe calls for French green lentils, which are ideal for salads because they hold their shape when cooked. They’re grown in the rich volcanic soil near Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne region of France and have a wonderfully earthy flavor. You can find them in the bulk section at Whole Foods or specialty food shops. They’re definitely worth going out of your way to find but if you can’t get them, common green or brown lentils will work fine — just watch the cooking time as they can get mushy.

French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese
serves 2 as main course, 4 as a side

1 cup French green lentils (or common brown or green lentils)
3 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Lucini or Colavita
2-3 ounces goat cheese

Combine lentils, chicken broth and bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer until lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes for French green lentils or 20-25 minutes for common brown or green lentils. Remove bay leaf, strain and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except goat cheese. Add cooled lentils and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer salad to serving dish, crumble goat cheese over top and serve.

Jennifer Segal is the founder and publisher of Once Upon a Chef, a cooking blog featuring easy and elegant recipes. Before launching her blog, Jennifer earned her culinary stripes working front and back of the house at some of DC's top fine dining restaurants, including L'Auberge Chez Francois, Sam & Harry's and The Caucus Room.

She has also done private catering and restaurant public relations. Jennifer is a graduate of the professional Culinary Arts Program at L'Academie de Cuisine.