April 2, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
Last week, I was looking for something different to make with our lamb for Easter dinner. As I stated in an email that I sent to a couple friends looking for side dish suggestions, “Don’t say roasted potatoes. Snooze.” After suggestions for goat cheese mac and lighter lemony salads, I decided to go with lentils and found a recipe that was absolutely perfect.
I realized that I have been neglecting my cookbooks lately. I read them all the time, but more times than not I make something off my “originals” list. I’m getting ready for a trip to Barcelona later this month, so I pulled out my Made in Spain cookbook. My friend, Maggie, gave me José Andrés’ beautiful cookbook after a meal we shared at one of his restaurants, Jaleo.
Jaleo has always been one of my very top restaurants in DC, with incredible tapas and great paella. We used to live right around the corner from the original location, in Penn Quarter, and spent many a happy evening drinking sangria and dining on patatas bravas, asparagus with perfect romesco sauce, and, my personal favorite, sherry and honey dressed mussels. The consistency and precision of the food is always above par. Plus they have a happy hour that can’t be beat!
This location did undergo a massive renovation last spring and I have to confess, the decor is not my favorite. The food is still authentic and amazing but the modern feel robs the diners of the old city charm it use to offer… in my opinion. And be warned, if you enter the ladies room, there is a very scary, life-size photo print of soccer/football fans covering the floor and essentially looking up your dress. It’s very weird.
But a change in decor certainly doesn’t mean I am jumping ship from the José Andrés bandwagon. Along with some simply roasted asparagus and a boneless lamb shoulder (tomorrow’s recipe!), this blue cheese studded lentil salad made for a beautifully rounded meal.
I did adapt it significantly, particularly in the method. Plus José Andrés of course writes the recipe using a Spanish blue cheese, Valdeon. But in the notes, he does suggest substituting a British stilton, which I seem to always have on hand these days. I stayed pretty true to the ingredients, but saved myself a few steps. For example, rather than making a separate dressing, I just tossed it all together.
One trick from the cookbook was to simmer the lentils with a half onion, garlic cloves, and bay leaf. After cooking, I discarded the onion and bay leaf, but chopped the garlic and added it back to the salad.
Then I tossed with all the other vegetables, plus a good olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Wait until just before serving to mix in the blue cheese because you don’t want the salad to become creamy.
Lentil Salad with Stilton
*adapted from José Andrés’ Made in Spain
1 cup dried green lentils
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
½ cup diced red pepper
½ cup diced roma tomato
3 green onions, sliced
2 oz. stilton blue cheese, crumbled
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
2 tsp sea salt
In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils, the entire half onion, the garlic, and the bay leaf. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Drain the lentils. Remove the onion, garlic, and bay leaf, reserving the garlic. Chop the garlic cloves and add to a mixing bowl with the red pepper, tomato, shallot, and green onion. Add the lentils and mix.
Toss with the olive oil, sherry, salt, and blue cheese. Serve.