How to feel rich for a quid: Puy lentils two ways

Lentils were, once, something I avoided. They were red or green and reminded me of primary school, where we stuck dried split peas and lentils onto pictures, and I had no desire to eat them.

But in the last twenty years, the lentil, particularly the beautiful, dark greeny-blue Puy lentil, has dusted off its dour image and become the pulse du jour. No longer the poor relation of Caran d’Ache, these days you’ll find them starring alongside steak not stuck to cardboard shapes. I am a convert for lots of reasons: a) they’re easy; b) they’re carb-free; and c) they are really cheaper than chips (in the realms of north London they’re all of £1.20 for 500g, in Waitrose, and about 75p for 250g in the Turkish shops).

You can eat them simply, just cooked, drained, then tossed with some oil, salt and pepper. Or you can make them into lunch by dressing them up a little. The recipes below are a good starting point: adjust or tweak them to your taste and you may find, like me, that you are never without a pan of this once-unloved ingredient, cooked and ready to go. Both of these are lovely served hot but just as nice the next day, for lunch, from a plastic box. And, yes, you could quibble that this isn’t quite a quid’s-worth (though it’s close; it depends on where you buy your feta and anchovies) but what’s a few pence between friends? 

Puy lentils with feta, anchovies and lemon (adapted from here)

Makes enough for 2 (100g of lentils is about right for one person)

Cupboard (or things you may already have)
bay leaf
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shopping list
Puy lentils, 200g
sprig of fresh thyme (optional)
feta or other soft cheese like goat’s or ricotta, 100-150g
tinned anchovy fillets, 4-6
capers, 1 tbsp
½ lemon
flat-leaf parsley, a small handful

How to
1. First, cook the lentils. Put them in a saucepan with the bay leaf and thyme, if using, cover with cold water (or freshly-boiled water from the kettle) then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer until tender (usually about 20-25 minutes).
2. Whilst the lentils are cooking, dice or chop up the cheese into small pieces, chop the anchovy fillets, rinse the capers (if necessary), zest and juice the lemon and chop the parsley leaves.
3. When the lentils are cooked, drain them, remove the bay and thyme then toss them (whilst warm if possible) with the cheese, anchovies, capers, lemon zest and juice and parsley. Drizzle on some olive oil, taste, season and serve hot or cold.

Puy lentils with sweet potatoes

Makes enough for 2 (100g of lentils is about right for one person)

Cupboard (or things you may already have)
bay leaf
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shopping list
sweet potatoes, 2
dried chillies, 1-2
Puy lentils, 200g
sprig of fresh thyme (optional)
feta or other soft cheese, like goat’s or ricotta, 100-150g
fresh coriander, small handful
lemon juice, about 1 tbsp

How to
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 4.
2. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and crumble the dried chillies. Put in a bowl, pour over a little olive oil and stir until the sweet potatoes are coated. Spread out on a baking tray or in a roasting tin then bake until soft (about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces).
3. When the sweet potatoes have been roasting for about 20 minutes, cook the lentils. Put them in a saucepan with the bay leaf and thyme, if using, cover with cold water (or freshly-boiled water from the kettle) then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer until tender (usually about 20-25 minutes).
4. Whilst the lentils are cooking, dice the feta and chop the coriander.
5. When cooked, remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, drain the lentils and remove the bay and thyme then toss the sweet potatoes and lentils together with the feta and coriander. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste. Good hot or cold.

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This entry was posted in How to feel rich for a quid, Lentil/bean recipes, One pot and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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