If you’re the type of person who, when you go to a barbecue, might want to eat something besides hamburgers and potato chips–like, for example, a lentil and couscous salad–you should probably embrace the potluck format. One of the prime benefits of potlucking is that you know that there will be at least one thing that you can’t wait to fill your plate with.
This salad is a great contender for any potluck contribution you have to make. First up, it’s pretty. Loads of parsley and morsels of goat cheese take care of that. (I also happen to think there’s beauty in the uniformity in size between the lentils and the couscous.) Second, it’s nutritious, but without holding up a banner that screams “I’m healthy! I’m healthy!” And third, it’s as good at room temperature, hours after being assembled, as it is when you first make it. That practically guarantees that the bowl will be scraped clean.
Of course, what you drink at a potluck will depend a lot on what the wine-bringers uncork. But if you’re responsible for some of the bottles, be sure to tote along a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Gris, which tastes fresh and bright against the earthy lentils and creamy goat cheese.
- 1 cup French green lentils
- 1½ cups Isareli couscous
- 2 shallots, sliced
- Cider vinegar
- ½ cup dried apricots
- 1 tablespoon white wine like Pinto Gris
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 3 ounces aged goat cheese
- Bring a big pot of water to boil. Add a tablespoon of salt, then add the lentils. Lower the heat down to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for about 25 minutes until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. Add the Israeli couscous and raise the heat so the water's boiling again. Cook for 6 minutes, then drain the whole pot. Return the dry grains to the pot.
- While the grains are cooking, put the shallots in small bowl. Cover with the vinegar and set aside.
- Put the apricots in another small bowl. Add the wine. Pour boiling water to cover them and set that aside too.
- When the grains are ready, drain off 2 tablespoons of vinegar from the shallots into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the mustard, then drizzle in the oil little by little, whisking all the while, so the dressing emulsifies. Season with salt. Pour the dressing over the grains, tossing to mix well. Set aside for 20 minutes, so they can come to room temperature.
- Drain the water off the apricots and mince them. Add the minced apricots, drained shallots, and parsley to the pot with the grains. Mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the goat cheese.