July 9, 2011

Warm Red Lentil and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese

Lentil salads, such as warm red lentil salad, are the perfect way to continue eating lentils during spring and summer. Lentils, a member of the legume family, were one of the first crops domesticated by humans in the Near East. Due to their high protein content, lentils remain an important part of the diet around the world, especially in South Asia and the Middle East. In the States, it seems lentils are frequently cooked in lentil soup and while delicious, is certainly not the only way to cook lentils. Warm spiced red lentils with caramelized shallots over sautéed spinach and fresh tomatoes topped with crumbled goat cheese are reminiscent of similar dishes served in Persian cuisine and are delicious with tangerine beets and roasted potatoes.

Any variety of lentils may be used, though cooking times and water quantities may vary. Feta could be used in place of goat cheese. Yellow or red onions may be used instead of shallots. Omit the goat cheese to make the dish vegan.

For the Samimi-Aazamis, my Persian dears, in celebration of their anniversary.

1 c red lentils

2 c water

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp grated ginger

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped

2 medium shallots, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 lb fresh spinach, trimmed

1 medium tomato, finely diced

1 tbsp mint, finely chopped

1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a Dutch oven or similarly heavy pot over medium heat. Add lentils and cumin, sauté until lentils become slightly translucent, 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add ginger and garlic, sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer lentils until water is almost completely reduced and lentils are tender, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add shallots. Sauté shallots, stirring often until shallots are golden brown and caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Once caramelized, remove from heat and combine with cooked lentils, mint and cilantro. Season lentils to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Using the same medium skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add spinach and sauté until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes. Season spinach to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Serve lentils over sautéed spinach and tomatoes and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 3-4



oooooooooooooo. next one up.

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