Place the lentils, water, spices, onion, carrots and whole garlic cloves into a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 1 hour, covered, or until the lentils are no longer crunchy. Drain the lentils and place in a bowl. Remove the bay leaf.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and oil. Pour onto the lentils and toss to coat. Taste for salt. Set aside.
In a dry skillet, roast the walnuts over medium heat, constantly moving the nuts in the pan. Watch closely so they do not burn.
When they start to smell toasty, move them a plate to cool. Roughly chop them into small pieces.
Take the ½ fennel bulb and cut it into ½ again lengthwise. Then slice across the bulb as thin as you can, paper thin if possible.
Toss with the lentil salad. Add the minced fennel top and the toasted walnuts.
Serve warm or at room temperature, but not cold. Crumble the feta or goat cheese on top.
Recipe by Jane O'Riordan