cold lentil, asparagus & goat cheese salad

something you should know: when you combine soft goat cheese with hot lentils, it creates a delicious creamy sauce. add some lemon zest & juice, a bit of spice and you have a very bright flavored lentil dish. this recipe is very adaptable - you could use different colors of lentils, or include different spices or herbs or different seasonal vegetables. you could serve it chilled (as i prefer) or warm. but the base, that delicious goat cheese sauce over lentils, is something you must try! 
* this is an excellent picnic food. 

cold lentil, asparagus & goat cheese salad - serves 4: 
1 cup brown or french lentils
1/3 cup chevre goat cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
chili flakes
salt & pepper
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (optional)
2 bunches of asparagus, sliced thinly at a diagonal
1/2 cup fresh herbs - i used parsley & chives
2 shallots, thinly sliced

preheat oven to 375. bring 3-4 cups of water to boil. do not add salt to cook lentils. in the mean time, mix together chevre with lemon zest, garlic, chili flakes, salt and pepper. brown lentils take about 20-25 minutes to cook in boiling water. but adjust your cook time depending on the type of lentils you choose to use. do not overcook! you want the lentils to be able to hold their shape in the salad vs. a dahl-like texture. strain and place the lentils into a large mixing bowl. right away, add your zesty goat cheese and gently stir until the lentils are nicely coated. let cool completely. 
prep your asparagus spears - wash, trim, slice - as well as your shallots. toss vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper. roast in a pan, tossing every few minutes, until the asparagus is just fork tender then remove from oven and let cool. in a smaller bowl, mix together lemon juice, olive oil and mustard. toss this dressing with your roasted asparagus & shallots once they are cooled. 

to assemble salad, mix together your creamy lentils with the saucy asparagus and shallots and top with fresh herbs. season to taste if more salt is needed. serve in pita bread, on greens or as a side dish!