This week I’m including two vegetable dishes that can be a light meal as they are or excellent with chicken, meat or fish. I always have French lentils in my pantry. I loved them from the first time we ate them in Paris in 1980. They’re easy, delicious and great absorber of flavours.
FOR MY BASIC RECIPE:
Soften a finely chopped onion, carrot and 1-2 celery stalks in a little olive oil. I add the lentils to the pot, add 3-4 cloves of garlic each cut into quarters, bay leaf, sprig of thyme and parsley and finally water or stock. I let these cook until just soft. I drain off any excess liquid and dress with a classic vinaigrette while the lentils are still warm. My favourite vinaigrette for this is – a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 3 parts olive oil and 1 part mix of sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.
The other day to these lentils I added cubes of roasted beetroot, 1 finely chopped red onion, a good handful of finely chopped parsley and mint and a cup of cooked edamame beans. It was great with pan-fried turbot and also the next day with cold chicken.
For something different for lunch I curried the lentils. Taking the basic recipe, and before I added the water, to the pot I stirred in a teaspoon each of ground cardamom, ground coriander, ground cumin, 2 whole star anise, a piece of cinnamon stick, some freshly grated nutmeg, 2 tbps tomato paste, 1½ tbsps mild curry powder, a pinch of cayenne, 2 whole green chillis and 1 tsp grated fresh turmeric. Once the lentils were cooked I removed the chillis, star anise and cinnamon stick and drizzled the lentils with a little olive oil and a couple of splashes of sherry vinegar and finely chopped coriander.
This was delicious with a poached egg on top and sprinkled with crispy shallots (you can buy them in most supermarkets) and more coriander.