Lentil Goat Cheese Salad

LentilsI got this recipe out of Second Helpings, Union Square’s second cookbook.  It is a really layered salad with lots of different flavors and textures.  You could use the lentil salad the next day just to toss into a green salad or even on crackers.  Worth the effort. 

This is a recipe for 4 but I had 18 people and made enough for 21 (the family had to eat too), and I literally just multiplied everything by 5 and it all worked out.

1 medium beet (you could always eliminate this)
1 cup green lentils ( I used the French kind)
3 cups Vegetable Stock
1 T. kosher salt
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3 T. finely diced shallots
8 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup minced herbs (tarragon, parsley and chives – I used a mini blender to do this instead of hand)
2 T. olive oil
6 cups mesculun salad mixture ( or any type of salad you’d like)

1 1/2 tsp. chopped herbs (same as above)
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1 T. sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Trim the beet, wrap in tin foil and roast at 350 for an hour or until you can easily pierce the top with a knife.  When it is cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  I made the beets a few days in advance and just kept wrapped in the tin foil in the refrigerator until the day I served the salad.

Combine the lentils and the vegetable stock in a large saucepan.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover for 10 minutes.  Then add in the 1 T. salt, stir and cover and let cook for about 30 minutes more until soft.  20 minutes should actually be fine.  Drain, transfer to a bowl and add in the diced carrot, celery and shallots.

Combine the goat cheese (softened at room temperature) with the chopped herbs and olive oil.  Stir until completely combined. 

Put all the makings for the vinaigrette in a jar, close tightly and just shake.

Take about 2/3 of the vinaigrette into the lentil mixture and mix.  Now take a 3 inch ring mold and put the lentil mixture in until it is filled about 2/3 of the way up.  Really push with your fingers to make sure it is in there tight.  Now add the goat cheese mixture and fill to the top.  Push here too to make sure it is tight.  I put these all on a cookie sheet and then slid off the ring by holding down the mixture and gently pulling off the ring.  They stayed in the refrigerator until about one and a half hours before I was going to serve the salad because it is better at room temperature.

Combine the greens with the rest of the vinaigrette.  On each plate I put a small amount of salad and with a spatula gently lifted the lentil mixture off the cookie sheet and placed it in the middle of the salad.  I put 3 sliced beets around the greens.  Then served.  I could have possibly used a really high quality olive oil to dribble on top but opted out. 

Even the kids liked this one.