© Dan Goldberg
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Serves : 4

Spinach serves two purposes here: Half of the leaves are shredded and wilted with the warm lentils, while the rest is dressed and makes a base for the salad. For the cheese, choose a good-quality aged white or yellow cheddar; its sharp flavor will perfectly contrast the lentils' earthiness. Slideshow: Lentils

How to Make It

Step 1    

In a medium pot, combine the lentils, onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain; discard the onion, carrot, garlic, and bay leaf.

Step 2    

In a small frying pan, toast the pecans over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Or toast them in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Chop them.

Step 3    

In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Add the oil slowly, whisking.

Step 4    

Shred half the spinach and put in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add the hot lentils and toss with half the dressing, the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss the mixture gently until the spinach wilts.

Step 5    

Toss the remaining spinach into the remaining dressing and put on plates. Top with the lentil mixture and the toasted pecans. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the cheese over the top.

Suggested Pairing

This salad, with its lentils and rich cheddar, can easily stand up to a fruity red wine. A Petite Sirah's roasted-berry flavors make it just right for the part.

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