You may not guess it from looking at this site, but I love a good salad. Not only do I love refreshing, light salads made with summer fruits and vegetables, but I can really enjoy a bulky Winter salad as well.
This salad with lentils, caramelised pan-fried cauliflower, smoky bacon, and pungent blue cheese crumbles (and yeah there’s some green stuff in there as well) is definitely in the latter category. Honestly? It’s not only a real favourite in my home but it usually does really well at dinner parties as well.
As any other salad, it makes for a great starter or side dish (and served as that it will definitely serve plenty more than the four people mentioned in the recipe below), but unlike some other salads, it’s also filling enough to serve as a hearty lunch that will keep you full until dinner and it’s actually substantial enough to be dinner itself too (for about four big eaters). It’s also one of those things that tastes even better the next day (and easily keeps for another day more!), which makes it perfect for meal prepping. Definitely a salad that doesn’t easily disappoint.
Tip: Not a fan of blue cheese? Replace it with some crumbly Feta, soft goat’s cheese, or some slices of Camembert.
Lentil Salad with Cauliflower, Bacon and Blue Cheese
- 200g dried green, or brown lentils
- 300g cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 200g smoked bacon, cubed or cut into thick matchsticks (lardons)
- 100g greens such as frisée lettuce, lamb's lettuce, or baby spinach
- 150g Blue cheese such as Gorgonzola (Picante), Bleu d’Auvergne, Roquefort, or Danablu
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Rinse the lentils under cold running water and transfer them to a pot. Cover with plenty of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy (start taste-testing some for doneness at around 20 minutes). Once cooked, drain and season the lentils with a little salt and leave to cool.
- While your lentils are cooking, wash and cut the cauliflower into florets. Place a steaming basket over the pot with lentils and steam the cauliflower pieces for 5 - 6 minutes. Alternatively, boil them in a separate pot from the lentils for 3 minutes (they shouldn’t be completely soft, as you will cook them a little more later).
- Prepare the dressing: combine juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of honey, olive oil and some freshly cracked black pepper in a bowl. Stir until the honey is dissolved then set aside until needed
- Now prepare the bacon and finish the cauliflower: Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan over high heat. Add the bacon pieces and fry until cooked through and crispy. Remove bacon from the frying pan but reserve the fat. Add the steamed/boiled cauliflower florets to the frying pan with the fat and cook on high heat until they start to brown and caramelise slightly for about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove from pan.
- To assemble the salad, combine the cooled-down lentils, fried bacon and caramelised cauliflower in a large bowl with the dressing. Add baby spinach, or tear lettuce into smaller pieces and add to the bowl as well. Toss lightly to make sure the dressing is well divided, then crumble over the blue cheese (or do so when serving).