Is it still technically a salad

16 Jan

if atop a bed of greens sits a piece of (basically) fried cheese?  Even if the answer is no, this is a dish that I will eat again.  Probably more than just a few times, and not necessarily because of the cheese, although, who am I kidding.  I love cheese.

I also took some liberties with this recipe.  First, I didn’t use nearly as much olive oil as was called for, because I didn’t really think it was necessary.  I used the lentils I had in my cupboard and they weren’t the fancy French du Puy ones as called for in the recipe.  I think my straight up regular supermarket brand lentils did just fine,  but then again, apparently lentilles du Puy are the shit, so maybe I’ll splurge for the next go-round.   Finally, I added some balsamic vinegar at the end since I love me some spinach with balsamic vinegar.

Salad?

James loved this.  He described it as being as good as your typical comfort food, but it’s actually (kind of) healthy and light.  He also added that after eating it, even with the fried cheese, he didn’t feel “fatty and gross”, so bonus points for that.  (A conversation for another time might be to ask him what meals he’s eaten HAVE made him feel fatty and gross afterwards. . . )

Finally, I would like to pat myself on my back for my excellent cheese crisping skills.  I’ve never done it before, and James, knowing my perfectionist and hyperbolic tendencies, preemptively told me that it would be totally okay if my cheese didn’t end up looking like the cheese in the picture.  Well, James, IT LOOKS AMAZINGLY AWESOME LIKE IT DOES IN THE ORIGINAL PICTURE.  High five! (In all honesty, it was really easy.)

For those in Chicago, apparently Revolution Brewing has a similar salad.  I think a field trip is in order.  Who’s in?

Spinach Salad with Lentils and Crispy Goat Cheese (adapted from Serious Eats)

4-5 ounces fresh goat cheese (if serving four, 10 oz should do it)
large handful of flour, for dredging
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko
5 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cup green lentils (du Puy variety recommended)
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup neutral oil, such as canola
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Sea salt
  1.  Add the lentils to a pot and cover with a couple of inches water and a good pinch or two of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender but not mushy, adding more water if necessary, about 30 minutes. Season to taste as they cook. Drain, then add 3 tbsp of olive oil into the pot and cook the garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes, then return the lentils to the pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes until warmed through. Stir in parsley and remaining oil.

  2. In the meantime, lightly pack the goat cheese into a 1/3 cup measure to divide the cheese into rounds, scope out with a fork, and then press them gently flat into patties (it’s okay if they lose their shape a bit–you’ll reform them anyway). Place the flour, the egg, and the panko into three individual bowls. Dredge the goat cheese first in flour, then egg, then panko to coat on all sides, then set aside.
  3. While the lentils are warming with the garlic, heat the neutral oil in a large skillet until extremely hot, close to smoking. Add a goat cheese round; it should sizzle and turn golden within a couple of minutes. Repeat with remaining goat cheese rounds, cooking both sides until golden and crisp–a few minutes.  Remove them to drain on paper towels after cooking. Heap the spinach on plates, add a generous heaping of lentils, and top with the goat cheese.  Finish with drizzled balsamic vinegar and sprinkled sea salt.
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2 Responses to “Is it still technically a salad”

  1. Kate January 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    You know, I super hate hate lettuce, but I think it’s only because I’ve never eaten it with fried cheese. In fact, never even thought to do it!

  2. alison January 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    revolution is 2 blocks from my house and the food there is wonderful.

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