07 March 2012

Lentil, Watercress & Manchego Salad

I have been so bored with food and recipes lately.  So bored that I bought Mussels.  Except I don't really like mussels all that much.

They taste fine, but they look so unappetizing that I end up just not wanting to eat them.  I only like the ones that look like this:

They are beautiful and pink and tasty.

I picked up a new cookbook for inspiration, "Plenty" by the owners of Ottolenghi, a deli in London.  I found some inspiration and new taste combinations.  I didn't have everything on hand for their lentil salad, but found a few good substitutes lurking in my kitchen.

We are big lentil lovers as of about 2 years ago.  I usually prefer the Du Puy green lentils from France as they are quite flavorful.  As I poked through the cabinets, I found 4 packages of different lentils with each containing about 2 tablespoons....no, I cannot throw them away.  I mixed them up to equal a cup, hence the uneven colors and sizes. It still tasted great!

I love dressings that you incorporate the oil with freshly ground herbs or greens, they seem to meld all of the flavors together quicker than a vinaigrette and look so beautiful!  It's also wonderful on a plain vegetable that might otherwise be a bit bland.  Not to mention, a little goes a long way!


1 cup green lentils
a bundle of fresh herbs (I used sweet marjoram, thyme and fresh sage)
4 cups watercress, stalks removed
2/3 cup parsley
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
3 ounces Manchego cheese (I used a raw milk, 12 month aged)
walnut oil or other nut oil
1 fresh lemon wedge

Pick over lentils and rinse under cold water.  Place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add herb bundle and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat to a simmer and let cook 15-20 minutes until tender, but not mushy. 

While the lentils are cooking, put half of the watercress, parsley, oil, garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar in a food processor and process until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Pour dressing into a bowl.

As soon as the lentils are done, drain and remove herb bundle.  Pour directly into bowl with dressing and toss to coat.  I add a drizzle of nut oil at this point and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Toss in the remaining watercress and Manchego cheese.  We had this as a side to some locally made sausages, it was a match made in heaven! 

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