Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Warm Lentil Salad with Spinach and Blue Cheese

Do you ever have a thought that pops into your head and then will not go away? Like at work when you're refilling your water bottle at like 10:30 in the morning and you suddenly remember that you have a bag of french green lentils in the cupboard and you spend the rest of the day figuring out how to eat them for dinner that very night? Is that just me? Sometimes it's like a song gets stuck in my head, but instead of a song it's an idea for something to eat.

So, last week I remembered these lentils. And then I remembered the little chunk of blue cheese in the fridge. And one thing led to another, and this is what we had for dinner, with a slice of crusty bread and a glass of white wine.

Warm Lentil Salad with Spinach and Blue Cheese
serves 2 as a light main course or 4 as a starter

This is one of those dishes where I'm not sure whether to call it a salad, because it's got not-quite-cooked greens or a side dish because the lentils are warm. Whatever you want to call it, it's darn tasty. 

1 cup French green lentils
5 ounces baby spinach (1 small bag)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 teaspoons sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 handful dried cherries
1 slightly larger handful toasted walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper

First, cook the lentils: in a saucepan, cover then lentils by an inch or two with water, turn to high heat and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: in a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the shallots until translucent, 5 minutes or so. Add the vinegar and mustard and swirl to mix, add 1/4 teaspoon or so each of salt and pepper. Turn off heat.

When the lentils are done, drain them and add them back to the pot, then add the dressing and the spinach, tossing to coat lentils and spinach with dressing. The heat from the lentils will wilt the spinach, yay! Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Dish out the lentils and spinach onto plates, then evenly distribute the blue cheese, cherries and chopped walnuts on top of each salad.


  1. Ha! Yes I do this constantly. And it's usually with beans. Or random items in my freezer. It's a nice distraction from the real world.

    This salad looks delicious! Love the blue cheese....which is something else I have in my fridge. Damn it.

  2. This salad is so amazing, fresh, and creative. I love warm salads but have never made one. Lentils are the perfect addition :)

  3. Morning HOney,
    Wow, this looks great, I"ve got evrything but the lentils and I'll pick those up today.

  4. wow, this sounds fabulous. love the addition of the dried cherries. hmm, i actually think i have all of the ingredients in my apt ;)

  5. This is SO up my alley - and yes, I do the same thing w/ingredients. I'll spend an hour surfing the 'net seeking inspiration for whatever I have around . . . I am putting dried cherries (just used the last ones the other day) and blue cheese on the list for Sat. - can't wait to try it!

  6. Wow, this looks awesome! Can you imagine how great it would be in the summer with non-dried cherries? My mind, it is boggled.

  7. Hi Honey,
    Made this for Dad and I tonight, substituted dried cranberries and added some ham, delicious...this is one of your best recipes.

  8. Hi Adrienne!
    I just found your blog, and I like your style (cooking and blogging) very much!
    I was looking for something to make with lentils, spinach and cheese (mozzarela,not blue) and found you via google.
    I'm adding you to my google reader...


  9. Hi Adrienne! I decided to google lentils and blue cheese and your blog came up! Great recipe and such positive comments, will definitely try it this evening. And yes, I often have "loads" of thoughts popping into my head at once, that won't go away!