This post is a double up, being my second recipe from ‘My Cookbook Library’ as well as a vegetarian ‘Meat Free Monday’ dish. Jerome has decided that the ‘My Cookbook Library’ posts (cooking my way through all my cookbooks, one recipe from one book at a time) should be renamed ‘Jerome’s pick’, as he quite enjoyed being given the cookbook index (on eat your books) and getting to pick what I cooked.

The second book I chose to cook from is Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes. I love this cookbook and related cooking series. After studying patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Rachel started testing recipes for a cookbook in her tiny apartment with just a mini oven and two gas rings.  She also opened the smallest restaurant in Paris in her apartment, serving just two people for dinner. This is one of those rare books where when I look through it, I want to try at least every second recipe. If you want to give French food a try, I certainly recommend this book. If Rachel can cook these recipes in her tiny apartment with limited equipment, I think most of us should be able to replicate them in our own kitchens. I certainly try to remember what Rachel cooked with whenever I start complaining about my own kitchen!

This is a very light dish, and would make a nice light lunch or side salad at dinner. Dill isn’t my favourite herb, but it went quite well against the earthiness of the beetroot and lentils and the creaminess of the cheese. We had the salad as a light dinner with some crusty baguette. Simple, only a few ingredients, but they all work well together.

Beetroot and goats cheese salad with lentils

Book recipe number: 2

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+ (198 now logged in my eat your books library, however there were quite a few that weren’t in their database that I now have to count)

New book credit: 0.4 (3 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Puy lentil salad with goat’s cheese, beetroot and dill 

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 200g puy lentils (or one 400g tin of cooked puy lentils)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cooked beetroot – peeled (see note)
  • Salad leaves (optional)
  • 200g soft goat’s cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Vinaigrette

  • ½ bunch of dill (my dill was quite small and I used about 12-15 small tops)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil of your choice (I like grapeseed oil)
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of sugar

Method

  1. Wash the lentils in cold water and then place in a saucepan with the bay leaf, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cover the lentils with at least double their volume of boiling water and cook for 15 – 30 minutes or until tender (the original recipe stated 15 minutes however mine took 30 minutes). Keep an eye on the water level and top it up if it dries out, like mine did (which unfortunately is why they look a bit dry in the picture). Alternatively, rinse and drain a can of ready prepared lentils.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, place the dill (including stalks) in a small electric blender or processor with the oil, vinegar, salt and sugar and process until combined. Taste and adjust with more salt, oil or vinegar as needed (to your taste).
  3. Thinly slice the beetroot (using a sharp knife or a mandolin).
  4. Drain the lentils and discard the bay leaf and thyme.
  5. To serve, divide the lentils between the plates (or in one large serving dish) and scatter over the salad leaves if you are using them (I didn’t). Place the beetroot on top and crumble over the goat’s cheese. Finally drizzle over the vinaigrette and a little extra olive oil if you prefer and some more salt and pepper (optional).

Note – To cook the beetroot I trimmed off most of the stalks and roots, and washed/scrubbed them well before wrapping in aluminium foil and baking in the oven at 160C fan forced for about 40 minutes until tender and cooked (test with a skewer, if it goes in without resistance, it is ready). I allowed the beetroot to cool slightly in the foil before removing the skin by simply rubbing it off with my hands (wearing gloves to avoid staining).

Adapted from – Rachel Khoo –  The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes