Recipe: Beluga Lentil Salad with Grapes & Goat Cheese

IMG_0675My personal chef clients vary in their preferences for menu selection.  Some of them like to have suggestions each week, some like to be surprised and let me choose, and I have one who just sends me the recipes she’d like me to make.  Having a variety is great since it keeps things fresh and I get to try new recipes and ideas.  My Thursday morning client is one who prefers I pick the menu and they like me to include a couple of vegetarian main-meal salads, especially in the summer.  They love spicy food so this morning I did a Roasted Poblano, Black Bean & Corn Salad – one of their son’s favorites.  I also thought a lentil salad would be nice and came up with this recipe for them.  They had some for lunch as I was wrapping up and loved it.  As we head into summer and hot days, having some lighter options for dinner is always a great idea.  This salad would taste great with a nice, crisp glass of white wine on the patio.  The lentils have plenty of protein but you could pair it as a side with grilled chicken if you prefer a non-vegetarian option.

Beluga Lentil Salad with Grapes & Goat Cheese (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 3/4 cup black beluga lentils (or French green lentils)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 small celery stalks, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1-2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T minced tarragon
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and add lentils.  Cook for about 5 minutes and add the shallots.  Cook for approximately 10 more minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Don’t let them overcook – you want them to have a little bite left to them.  Drain and allow to cool.  Place lentils and remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk together the garlic, mustard, honey, tarragon and vinegar until combined.  Then slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat completely.  Transfer to plates and top with crumbled goat cheese.

June 12, 2014Permalink 2 Comments

Does Bobby Know Best?

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a lot of cook books on my office shelves.  Probably more than I care to count – I used to love to pick up a few on trips to store-front bookstores, back in the old days when they were still plentiful.   Borders was always good for a having some on the discount tables and I seem to have a hard time passing up a bargain!  I realized along the way that I rarely use them as direct reference but more for inspiration.  In fact, they used to live in my kitchen but the collection expanded beyond their allowed space so they were moved upstairs.

That being said, I was cooking for a new client recently and she was chatting with me as I was getting started.  She asked me who my favorite chef is and frankly it wasn’t something I could answer off the top of my head.  I don’t watch a lot of current “how to” type cooking shows (although I fill my DVR weekly with ridiculous cooking competition type shows – I can’t help myself!).  I used to regularly watch Jacques Pepin & Julia Child on PBS (and still do when they rerun them) but I don’t have a lot of patience for any that I’ve come across recently.  So in an effort to at least answer her question, I spit out “Bobby Flay!”.  I do like Bobby Flay’s style of food – I’m a big fan of chiles, I like to grill.  Seems like a logical pick. Later that evening he was on a show I happened across and I decided I needed to add a couple of Bobby Flay books to my shelves.  It was Memorial Day weekend after all and we were kicking off a whole summer of grilling fun.  I headed over to Amazon and ordered two – Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction and Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook.  I browsed through them and the recipes are pretty much what I like – not too fussy, lots of spice, fresh herbs, etc.  Looked like there was some good stuff to try out.

Now, to get to my point of this whole post, I decided last Saturday to make something from Barbecue Addiction – Mexican Red Chicken with Grilled Corn, Black Bean and Quinoa Relish.  I dutifully read through the ingredients and ran to the store to get some chicken and corn (surprisingly, the only two things that I didn’t have on hand).  Well, the second guessing starts pretty much as soon as I start putting together the marinade.  “Hey Bobby, wouldn’t a little cumin taste good in this?”, “Why no fresh cilantro in this ‘relish’, which I think is really more of a ‘salad’ anyway?”, and “I’m thinking some ancho chili peppers would taste good in this.”

I decided a little personal flair and interpretation would be okay but it did make me feel a somewhat uncomfortable.  I mean, after all, who am I to start second-guessing Bobby Flay on his recipes?  What’s your take – do you follow your recipes to a fault or allow yourself a little freedom of expression?  Bobby seems like a nice enough guy so I went with it… And it was delicious!

June 4, 2014Permalink 1 Comment