French Lentil and Arugula Salad with Herbed Cashew Cheese
This salad is inspired by that traditional combination of Le Puy lentils, walnuts, and goat cheese, with crisp arugula and radishes adding a welcome crunch and a peppery kick. In place of the goat cheese, I use tangy, salty Herbed Cashew Cheese. Making the cashew cheese requires some forethought, so if you don’t have any on hand or time to make it, you can omit it or substitute a chopped avocado. Reprinted with permission from Food52 Vegan by Gena Hamshaw © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs © 2015 by James Ransom.
- 1⁄3 cup olive oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 1⁄2 cups cooked Le Puy green lentils (see below), drained well
- 2 cups firmly packed baby arugula leaves
- 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1 cup chopped endive
- 1 cup sliced cucumber
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1⁄3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup Herbed Cashew Cheese (recipe follows below)
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, shallot, salt, lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard until evenly blended.
- In a large bowl, stir together the lentils, arugula, radishes, endive, cucumber, and dill.
- Drizzle evenly with the dressing, then toss or stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated.
- Stir in the walnuts and season with black pepper to taste.
- Dot the top of the salad with small bits of the cashew cheese (about 1⁄2 teaspoon each).
- Serve the salad right away, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
The Best Way to Cook Lentils
Lentils are quicker to prepare from scratch than beans and add great texture and nutrition to dishes. To cook them, start with about 1 cup red, brown, or Le Puy (green) lentils. Pick out any that are discolored or shriveled.
Rinse the lentils under running water, then combine them in a saucepan with 2 1⁄2 cups water. Bring the water to a rapid simmer, then reduce to a gentle simmer.
Add extra water as needed so that the lentils remain barely submerged. Simmer the lentils for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender but retain some chew. (Red lentils take less time to cook because they’ve been split, so they’ll likely be tender in 20 to 25 minutes.)
Drain, then season with salt and pepper to taste. 1 cup dry red, brown, or Le Puy lentils will make between 2 and 2 1⁄4 cups cooked lentils.
Herbed Cashew Cheese
Nut cheese can be made with almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, or pine nuts, but cashews, with their buttery texture and mild taste, are perfectly suited to the task. This cashew cheese, which is soft and spreadable, is infused with herbs for a more complex flavor profile and nutritional yeast for a kick of umami. Spread it on crackers or toast or crumble it over a salad.
Makes about 1 1⁄4 cups
- 1 1⁄2 cups untoasted cashew pieces or a combination of cashews and pine nuts, soaked in water for at least 3 hours and drained
- 2 tablespoons large-flake nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
- 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons water
Put the cashews in a food processor or blender (preferably a high-speed blender). Add the nutritional yeast, salt, herbes de Provence, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic. Pulse a few times to break the cashews down until they have a wet, coarse, mealy texture.
With the motor running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the water. Keep adding water, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl, until the mixture has a good consistency. It should be similar to thick hummus—a little coarse, but smooth and spreadable. You may not need all of the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. (If using a blender, start on a low speed and gradually increase to high speed as you add the water, using a plunger attachment the entire time to keep the mixture blending.)
Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Stored in a covered container in the fridge, the cheese will keep for about 5 days.
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