Warm Lentils with Goat Cheese Butter
So I have been a bit remiss in not mentioning that I didn’t cook my own birthday dinner, I just had a compulsive cake-baking fit. For dinner, Mr. Kitchenette took me to one of our favorite neighborhood gems, a little French bistro called Montmartre.
There were mussels in wine and garlic (because we couldn’t resist their scent from a few tables over), there was a cold soup, there were soft shell crabs and there was braised pork on a bed of lentils.
Is it odd that the thing that ended up being the most decadently memorable out of all of that was the lentils?
Did I mention there was a dallop of some kind of tarragony-cheesy-buttery-goodness melting over the lentils?
Ah, see, now you’re with me. I’ve said it before, there isn’t enough compound butter in my life. And then Montmartre had to go add goat cheese (I think) to the mix.
Beyond the butter-and-goat-cheese situation, part of the reason his lentils were so delectable, I am sure, was because at some point they were being cooked with some delicious roasted pork. But one of the great things about lentils is that they have plenty of awesome umami flavor on their own, so in recreating them — okay, okay, making up my own version inspired by those porky lentils — I also made them vegetarian. The menu doesn’t go beyond describing the topping as “tarragon cream” but I used chives since we have an abundance in the yard and made my own stab at recreating the silky, cheesy goodness that melted all over the lentils.
Apologies for being a photo slacker on this one; lentils aren’t that pretty anyway… guess you’ll just have to make it so see what it looks like.
Warm Lentils with Goat-Cheese Butter
for the compound butter
2 ounces chevre goat cheese, at room temperature
1 ounce butter, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon minced chives (or herb of your choice)
for the lentils
1 cup de Puy lentils
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 springs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 (or one small) carrot, diced small, about 1/2 a cup
1/2 stalk celery, diced small, about 1/2 cup
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon butter
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons cream
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
for the butter
In a small bowl, with the back of a fork, smoosh together the butter and goat cheese until fully combined. Stir in chives (or herb of your choice). Cover with plastic wrap and chill while you cook the lentils.
for the lentils
Pick over the lentils, rinse well and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan over high heat, melt butter and saute garlic, shallot, carrot and celery. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add lentils, water and herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Drain lentils, reserving 2 Tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Remove thyme and bay leaves. Put lentils in a bowl (whatever bowl you plan on serving in, or back in the pot, off the heat, if you’re not fancy… we’re not), and stir in cream, cooking liquid and sherry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve warm, topped with dollop of goat cheese butter so it melts into luscious awesomeness.
Great as a side dish with a hearty fish like salmon or makes for a great vegetarian main course for one.