Mediterranean lentil salad with goat’s cheese

by Christine Knight

Mediterranean lentil salad with goat's cheese

A bit obvious, but very tasty for all that; easy, healthy and summery. You could use a stronger dressing with balsamic, or a blended basil dressing with mustard, vinegars and garlic – but I like this quite fresh with lemon juice and olive oil, to allow the more delicate flavours of the courgette, peppers and lentils to come through. They already have the goat’s cheese and olives to contend with.

Serves 4

½ cup puy lentils (or similar small grey-green lentils), rinsed
1 red pepper (capsicum), quartered, seeded and cored
1 yellow pepper (capsicum), quartered, seeded and cored
¼ cup pinenuts
1 small courgette (zucchini), sliced on the diagonal, half a centimetre thick
1 ripe tomato, sliced into 8 wedges
20g basil, large leaves torn in two
1/3 cup good-quality black olives, pitted and sliced
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil, plus extra for brushing
100g goat’s cheese (you want one that’s rindless, soft and creamy, but still firm enough to crumble into the salad)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the lentils in a medium saucepan with plenty of cold water, and cover with a lid. Set the timer for 25 minutes and place over high heat. Bring to the boil, then remove the lid and reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender. (Start to test them after about 20 minutes to ensure they don’t turn to mush.) Drain, refresh under cold water, and set aside in a sieve to drain as much as possible.

Meanwhile, place the pepper quarters on a foil-lined baking tray, skin side up, under a grill heated to its highest setting. Grill until blackened and blistered, then remove and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then peel away and discard the skins, and slice each quarter lengthwise in half-centimetre strips.

While the peppers are under the grill, toast the pinenuts in a frying pan over medium-low heat until slightly browned. Remove from the pan and increase the heat . Brush the courgette slices on both sides with olive oil and fry until slightly browned and blistered on both sides.

Place the lentils, pepper strips, pinenuts, fried courgette slices, and all the other ingredients except the goat’s cheese in a large mixing bowl or salad bowl. Add plenty of ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. Mix well but gently with a large spoon. Finally, add the goat’s cheese, crumbled into largish chunks, and mix very gently to avoid breaking it up too much.

If you eat fish, this goes well with baked oily varieties such as salmon and sardines.