French Lentil Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese

This salad riffs on a classic French bite — every cook can offer their own variation on the theme. Flavored with salty capers, Dijon mustard and spicy arugula, you can adapt the ingredients to the seasons. In summer add sweet tomatoes, bell peppers or grilled eggplant — in winter toss in roasted squash or carrots. Substitute basil or parsley for the cilantro.

Be sure to use French green lentils, known as lentilles du Puy. They keep their shape in cooking.
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 small red onion or 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 large handful cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped celery (or fennel bulb)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 ounces firm goat cheese

Method:

  1. Place lentils in a saucepan, covered with water by 4 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, mix olive oil, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, syrup, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander and paprika together until thoroughly combined.
  3. When lentils are finished cooking, drain in a sieve and cool for several minutes. Place lentils into a large serving bowl and toss with dressing.
  4. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Cool completely then add onion, arugula, cilantro, celery and capers. Crumble goat cheese into bowl and mix carefully before serving.
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