I credit Nancy Silverton with my recent decision that an oozing patty of crisp goat cheese is a completely acceptable dinner. Especially when you lay it on a bed of green lentils sauteed in garlic and fresh spinach leaves. French green lentils—which hold their shape well when cooked, resisting mushiness—are a high-protein healthy component that help counteract the decadence.
And because of the spinach, thank God, this recipe appears in the "Salads" section of Silverton's book A Twist of the Wrist, which I've been cooking out of constantly lately and has yet to let me down.
This recipe immediately reminded me of another that appeared on Dinner Tonight awhile back, which had the same green lentils and spinach leaves, but with the goat cheese simply crumbled into the mix. A simpler recipe, but I must admit, not quite as delicious as this one.
If you have the time to dredge goat cheese in some breacrumbs and pan-fry it in oil, I highly recommend that you do. The creaminess against the earthy lentils and clean spinach is superb.
- 11 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1/4 cup flour, for dredging
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup panko or breadcrumbs
- 1 cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cup green lentils (preferably De Puy variety)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as canola
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Sea salt
Add the lentils to a pot and cover with a couple 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 1/2 the 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.
In the meantime, lightly pack the goat cheese into a 1/3 cup measure to divide the cheese into rounds, then press them gently flat into patties. Spread the flour on a small plate, the egg on another, and the panko or breadcrumbs on a third. Dredge the goat cheese in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs to coat on all sides, then set aside.
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 minutes. Repeat with remaining goat cheese rounds, cooking both sides until golden and crisp, removing to drain on paper towels after cooking. Heap the lentils and spinach on plates, top with the goat cheese, and finish with drizzled olive oil and sprinkled sea salt.