This salad makes an unusual first course for a smart dinner party. The balsamic onions can be prepared up to two weeks in advance and kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to toss them with the lentils and fresh ingredients. Puy lentils are available from all good supermarkets.
- 20 shallots, peeled
- ½ tsp sunflower oil
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 110g Puy lentils, dried
- 25g sun-dried tomatoes
- 110g rocket leaves
- 60g baby spinach leaves
- 75g goat’s cheese, diced
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 7g sunflower seeds
For the dressing
- 1 tsp sherry vinegar
- 3 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pack the onions tightly into a small, heavy-based saucepan. Add the ½ tsp of sunflower oil and fry over a high heat for about 5 minutes or until brown, turning the onions frequently so that they colour evenly. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook gently for a further 5 minutes until tender.
- Transfer the onions to a bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, cover and leave to marinate for at least 12 hours, turning them a few times. If wished, refrigerate them for up to 2 weeks. The balsamic vinegar can be reused.
- Wash the lentils under running cold water, then drain. Cook them in plenty of salted water for about 15 minutes until they are just tender but still have a bite. Drain, refresh in cold water and dry on a clean tea towel.
- Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing, seasoning to taste. Mix the lentils with the sun-dried tomatoes and a little of the dressing. Spoon onto 4 serving plates.
- Toss the rocket and spinach with the drained shallots in half of the remaining dressing and arrange on top of the lentils. Place the goat’s cheese on top and sprinkle with parsley and sunflower seeds. Pour over the remaining dressing and serve.
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