Rachel Khoo’s Puy lentil salad with goat’s cheese, beetroot and dill vinaigrette: a satisfying alternative to meat

Posted on July 31, 2012 by Mandy

Last year, following a friend’s initiative, in the name of sustainability, I decided to cut down on the amount of meat and fish I consume and try my best not to eat meat during weekdays. I also started looking for recipes and cookbooks that are more vegetable-centric.

I chanced upon Rachel Khoo’s Puy lentil salad while I was watching her BBC series The Little Paris Kitchen.  I like this recipe as it is simple, quick and most importantly, still hearty. I have a couple of friends who are vegetarians–they always end up eating the same leafy salads a couple of times a week. While I love my vegetables, I’d rather not eat like a rabbit. Instead, I want something flavourful and substantial, and this Puy lentil salad was it.

The key ingredient to this salad is the lentille verte du Puy. These lentils are cultivated in a region called Auvergne of France. Because of the climate and the mineral rich soil they grow in, Puy lentils have this nutty and smoky flavour. Unlike the common lentils or the French green lentils, when cooked, Puy lentils hold their shape very well, and do not get mushy easily.

However, getting hold of a pack of lentille verte du Puy in Singapore was not as easy as I thought it would be. I went to the more upscale supermarkets like Jasons, Jones the Grocer and ThreeSixty–none of them seem to stock Puy lentils. Just when I was about to give up, I remembered Culina at Dempsey Hill. I made a call to Culina and jackpot, they have Puy lentils. I trekked my way to the mountains (yes, I consider Dempsey a mountainous area especially when one doesn’t drive), found the lentils, checked the packaging and happily made my purchase.

It is important to check the packaging of the Puy lentils. More often than not, manufacturers pass off French green lentils as Puy lentils. On the packaging, there should be an A.O.P. (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) logo. This will ensure that you are getting the real deal. That said, if you think it is a hassle to hunt down Puy lentils, you can substitute it with the commonly found type of lentils. Still, I must caution you, you are missing out on a lot of flavour.

Once I’ve got the right lentils, the rest is pretty easy. It’s mostly assembly work. This salad has only a few core ingredients yet it’s packed full of flavour. The dill vinaigrette is important here as it is refreshing and “aniseedy”, and pulls the whole dish together. Once I’ve consumed this salad, I don’t feel hungry or deprived. If you are looking at ways to incorporate vegetarian meals into your diet, do try this Puy lentil salad, it is enjoyable and satisfying.

 

About Mandy Ng

Mandy’s journey into the culinary world began out of necessity–a means of survival whilst she was at university. She believes cooking should be simple and fun. Besides spending time in the kitchen whipping up hearty meals, Mandy also dreams of having a bottomless stomach that she can fill with all kinds of delicious things.

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