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Entries in lentils (15)


lentil soup

january is traditionally a month of austerity, a time when we try to make amends for our overindulgence with food, booze and spending.  lentil soup is a great store cupboard dish which counters all of the above indulgences but in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s a dish of deprivation.

i was convinced i hadn’t blogged this recipe but given i’ve been cooking for almost twenty years, perhaps it is unsurprising that i have.

it’s a rose elliott recipe which can be kept cheap and simple – onion, carrot, red lentils, stock and a bit of milk – or oomphed up with cream, yoghurt or croutons. the main thing for me, whichever version i make, is the squeeze of lemon juice which makes it nice and tangy.


white asparagus with tomato and rocket lentils

the weather has turned and i’m in spring/summery cooking mode. vegetables and light fresh flavours are shining through, helped by current obsession with natoora, via whom i’m merrily sourcing early tomatoes, asparagus, strawberries from the continent.

i know this doesn’t fit with my usual focus on local and seasonal choices but i feel as though i’ve been in the biggest food rut for weeks and getting some new season vegetables, alongside artisan products such nduja which you have to source for its local (calabrian) area, has really helped so i’m cutting myself a bit of slack.

this white asparagus from france was a gift from natoora – i have to confess, it’s not something i’d normally buy. i remember, years ago, reading gordon ramsay talking about white asparagus as a favourite of his, which prompted me to buy some and, to be honest, it was like every bad spear of tinned asparagus that i’d ever had.

however, these were different. i think cooking them very lightly so they retained some crunch really helped – they only had 4 minutes in the pan of simmering water. the flavour really shone through as well.

the lentils were amazing and helped everything along – in a little oil i fried some pancetta (ignore this if you want a veggie dish), garlic and sliced red onion until the onion had softened and the pancetta cooked through. 150g of lentils and 900ml of stock were added and simmered until the lentils were cooked and had absorbed the stock. add a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley, twice the amount of chopped rocket, some oak-smoked tomatoes (plus a tablespoon or so of their oaky smoky oil and some chopped cherry tomatoes plus a squeeze of lemon juice. taste to see if anything needs adjusting – i added black pepper and a bit more lemon juice – and you’re ready to serve this, split between two plates, topped with the asparagus. i finished everything off with a little browned butter which i’d added a final squeeze of lemon juice to.

the flavours really well together and this is a combination i’d also like to try with green asparagus. i’m also looking forward to having the leftover lentils as a packed lunch.


roasted roots with pancetta and lentils 

another week, another packed lunch. this is a great combination – really flavoursome and filling which meant i was less tempted to snack as the afternoons (dragged) on (it’s been a tough week!).

it was pulled together to use up some roasted beetroot that i had in the fridge (i peel mine before roasting and then sprinkled the chunks of beetroot with chopped rosemary, some fresh oregano plus salt and pepper before drizzling with olive oil). there wasn’t enough to make a big enough batch for the week so we roasted some parsnips to bulk things out, but any roasted vegetable would be good in this – aubergines, peppers, squash etc. i want to play around with the ingredients as i think it’ll be easy to create quite different results depending what vegetables are used but using this recipe as a template.

the pancetta adds a bit of saltiness and the fresh herbs and lemon juice play their usual role of lifting the flavours and freshening everything up. 

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white lentils with tomatoes and cream


i’m completely rubbish whenever asks me “what’s your favourite…” – i’m fickle and changeable so favourites come and go. however, lentils always catch my interest and dhal (or dal. or daal. or dahl.) is very much-loved. it was the answer to delicious magazine’s question about my favourite dish and is something i’ve not made nearly often enough in recent months.

dal makhani is a dish i love to find on a restaurant menu – it’s made with black urad lentils and is rich, earthy and indulgent. however, when i stocked up on urad dhal i chose the dehusked version - a white urid dal, according to the label. finding recipes for this has been tricky so i decided to adapt one that was meant for the unhusked bean (they aren’t really lentils) and is reminiscent of dal makhani.

the recipe i used is from the cinnamon club cookbook and it is the first time i’ve used this book. the resulting dish, albeit an adaptation, is rich, subtle and sophisticated. utterly delicious and a reason to track down some black urad dhal and make my own makhani.

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spicy lamb cutlets with lentil & rice pilaf


recently i was asked what a pilaf is – “a dish in which a grain, such as rice or cracked wheat, is browned in oil, and then cooked in a seasoned broth” according to wikipedia. i tend to make my pilafs with rice and love having them as an accompaniment to a roast (roasted tomato and fennel pilaf was a recent choice to accompany some slow-roasted lamb) or as a meal in the own right (my mackerel and spinach pilaf is a much loved favourite).

they are incredibly versatile, using up whatever you happen to have in and good served hot or just at room temperature (which makes them an ideal packed lunch option). 

adding protein to the pilaf is something i usually do with fish or meat but in this bill granger recipe he suggests lentils  which works really well. in fact the dish as a whole was great – the lamb cutlets are marinated with a mix of spices and the accompanying tomato sauce is spiked with ginger, chilli and garlic. perfect, with some flat breads, as a cosy supper when you need something comforting but still want to be reminded of summer’s light days and fresh flavours.

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