1 pound French green lentils (Le Puy), picked over and rinsed
2 ounces slab bacon
2 shallots—1 halved, 1 minced
1 bay leaf
5 cups water
1 cup pecans
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
6 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
In a large saucepan, combine the lentils with the bacon, halved shallot and bay leaf. Add the water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, discarding the bay leaf, shallot and slab bacon. Let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
In a large bowl, whisk the oil with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the lentils, pecans, minced shallot, celery and goat cheese and toss well. Serve right away.
The salad can be kept at room temperature for up to 6 hours. Stir in the toasted pecans just before serving.