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As soon as we left Tim’s birthday lunch last week, we began plotting ways to re-create part of our appetizer: the savory lentils beneath our crispy duck confit.
I am telling you, these lentils were something else – soft but not mushy, loaded with flavor, and serving as concrete proof that this humble ingredient will take on the character of whatever you mix it with.
For as long as I can remember, this has been something my mom does.
She loves the lamb stew she orders at a restaurant, so the next day she’s buying lamb at the meat counter. I make her a crustless quiche when she comes to visit, so she’s blending eggs and spinach together the moment she gets home.
And I guess this confirms that I am officially my mother’s daughter because, even beyond these culinary projects, I’ll be darned if half our wedding wasn’t the result of someone else’s great idea on Pinterest that I just knew I had to try for myself.
The mismatched vintage plates? Something I saw on a blog. The banquet-style tables? Pulled directly from the pages of a magazine.
Now, from the burlap wreath on our front door to our eclectic collection of dining room chairs, I’m always pulling from someone else’s concept, and riffing on it to make it my own.
Sometimes I wonder if real creativity is still possible in the world. I draw inspiration from so many sources, is it even possible to come up with an original idea?
As for these lentils, in the time that it took to attend a matinee showing of the latest new release, we’d narrowed down most of the ingredients we thought we’d tasted, and were on our way to pick them up at the store.
I kept telling Tim how great it would be to get this recipe right because lentils are so cheap and so simple to prepare, and yet they’re one of those foods I’ve always been a little intimidated by. Somehow, I felt as if making them well was reserved for the Really Good Cook.
So here is what we did:
On Saturday, I soaked the lentils overnight. In the morning, Tim cooked them in water and set them aside.
In the afternoon, in maybe 20 minutes total, we set to work heating oil, adding tomatoes and almonds and thyme, combining this mixture with the lentils, and topping the whole thing with goat cheese.
With eager and anticipation, we sat down to eat…
And the results were incredible.
I think the first words out of my mouth were something like, “They’re just like those lentils!”
While this may not have been an achievement of unique individual creativity, in my mind, recreating this delicious dish was a real culinary success.
For a similar mix that I adore, our recipe for lentils with shallots, strawberries, and goat cheese is equally delightful.Print
Warm lentil salad with goat cheese proves that simple is often best. It’s satisfying as a side dish or a vegetarian entree.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped Marcona almonds
- 1 1/2 cups cooked French lentils
- 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
- Place olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
- Remove thyme leaves from stems. Once oil is hot, add thyme leaves and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes and almonds to the pan and cook until tomatoes have softened and nuts are fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir in cooked lentils and goat cheese. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, if desired.
- Serve immediately, garnished with extra thyme leaves.
- Category: Lentils
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Side Dish
Keywords: lentils, lentil salad, goat cheese, Marcona almonds, vegetarian
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prepare and Measure Ingredients
Wash all of the produce well.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and roughly chop the almonds. Remove the leaves from the thyme stems.
Known for being softer and sweeter than regular almonds, the Marcona variety is a specialty product from Spain that adds a little something extra to this dish.
Measure all of the remaining ingredients.
If your started by pre-cooking your lentils, great! If not, start by placing them in a colander or strainer and sift through to remove any debris or rocks. Thoroughly rinse under running water.
We like to use green (or sometimes a mottled greenish-brown) lentils for this recipe, since they’re a bit more firm than other types and hold their shape nicely when they’re cooked.
You have the option to soak the lentils overnight to make them easier to digest and cook more quickly. After rinsing, place them in a small bowl and add enough cool water to cover by about an inch. Let them soak overnight.
The next day, give them another rinse and drain before cooking. Add them to a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of water. Low-sodium vegetable broth is a nice alternative to add a little extra flavor.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until softened but not mushy. Drain any remaining water.
Step 2 – Heat Oil and Thyme
Place the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, add fresh thyme leaves from about 6 sprigs and cook until fragrant, for about 30 seconds.
Step 3 – Add Tomatoes and Almonds
Add the halved tomatoes and chopped almonds to the saucepan. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the almonds are fragrant, stirring frequently for about 5-8 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Step 4 – Stir in Lentils and Goat Cheese
Add the lentils and crumbled goat cheese to the saucepan.
Stir until well combined.
Step 5 – Garnish and Serve
Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve.
Leftovers keep will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, and may be served warm or chilled.
In addition to being high in filling fiber, lentils are also a low calorie protein source that’s rich in iron, folate, and polyphenols – plant compounds that help protect against heart disease.
But putting nutrition aside, there’s another important benefit of lentils and other pulses: sustainability. The goal of sustainable eating is to conserve resources to reduce our impact on the environment so that future generations will also have access to nourishing foods.
So how do pulses fit in? The EAT-Lancet Commission is a group of more than 30 world-leading scientists that get together to review the current literature and provide science-based recommendations for following a healthy, sustainable diet. For 2019, their top recommendation is a global shift towards more plant-based foods, specifically pulses.
Unlike animal proteins, pulses have a very low carbon footprint, use less water to grow, and enrich the soil that they’re grown in, making future crops more nutrient rich.
Another benefit? Pulses are easy on the budget. Get more lentils in your life with these tried-and-true Foodal recipes:
Are you a fan of lentils? We’d love to hear your favorite ways to eat them in the comments below. And don’t forget to give this recipe a rating after you’ve tried it!
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via NOW Foods. Originally published on April 30, 2012. Last updated: March 29, 2019 at 15:27 pm. With additional writing and editing by Kelli McGrane and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.