Beet, lentil and mint salad with pomegranate molasses and orange dressing

A stunning combination for a healthy, clean tasting winter salad.

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Serves 4 to 6

3-4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 small leek, cut in half lengthways and sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz Puy lentils
1 tbsp each of chopped rosemary, thyme and sage.
3-4 fl oz mirin
3 tbsp white miso
1-2 fl oz soy sauce
5 oz raw beets, peeled and cut into fine strips
A large handful of mint leaves, shredded
A couple of handfuls of baby wild arugula or rocket
About 4 oz Greek feta cheese to crumble over the top (Optional)

Dressing
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
4 tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
juice and grated zest of 1/2 large orange
3 fl oz (approx) of olive oil
pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the leek, onion and garlic and cook, stirring over a high heat until caramelized. Add the lentils, herbs and mirin and continue to fry for 4 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add enough water to cover lentils by 1 inch, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until tender (add a little more water if needed).
Remove from the heat and stir in the miso and soy sauce. Check the seasoning, adding more soy if needed, then leave to cool.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Toss the beets, mint and lentils together in a bowl with a generous slosh of the dressing. Add salad leaves and mix gently. Sprinkle over the feta cheese, if wanted.
Serve immediately

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Lentil and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Feta and Tahini

Another lovely tasty and healthy meatless salad. Enjoy!

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Lentils

Scant 1 cup dried green lentils (Puy or Casteluccio, if you can find them) picked and rinsed over. (or buy the vacuum packed cooked lentils in the supermarket and skip this whole cooking stage)
2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 fresh sage sprigs
2 tbsp olive oil

For the dressing and salad
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 large garlic clove
Salt (Maldon or another flaky sea salt if you’ve got it)
2 tbsp well-stirred tahini paste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 tbsp plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

1 and 3/4 cups drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas,from a 15-ounce can)
1/2 small preserved lemon, pith and flesh discarded, rind finely diced (optional)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
A handful of cilantro or flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1/4 cup Greek feta cheese
1 1/2 tbsp raw sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan until a shade or two darker

Make the lentils: Put the lentils, garlic, sage, and olive oil in a small pot, along with 2 cups cold water, and set it over medium heat. Let the water come to a simmer (not boiling), then turn the heat to low and cook the lentils in a very gentle simmer just until they are tender (about 25 to 30 mins and you might need some extra liquid near the end) Take the pan off the heat and let the lentils cool a bit before draining them. Pick out and discard the sage and garlic. You’ll have about 2 cups cooked lentils.

Make the dressing: Mix together the ground coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Mash the garlic clove to a paste with 1 tsp salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) on a cutting board or in a mortar. In a small bowl for your dressing, combined the mashed garlic, tahini, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, 1 tsp of the ground coriander-and-cumin mixture and 2 tbsp water. Stir well, then taste. Add more lemon if desired.

Assemble the salad: Place onion slices in a medium bowl and break them up with your fingers. Sprinkle in two good pinches of salt, then two teaspoons of lemon juice, two remaining teaspoons of olive oil and the cilantro or parsley. Toss well, then crumble in the cheese and gently toss again.

Toss the lentils with the drained chickpeas, preserved lemon rind (if using), and 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the tahini dressing and toss it all together really well, then stir in the onion-feta mixture.

Arrange the salad in bowl or platter. Sprinkle the mixture with the sesame seeds and some of the remaining spices. Serve

Hot mustard lentils with beets and spicy sausage

All my favorite ingredients on one plate. Such a lovely mixture of flavors and textures and so good for you too.

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Serves 4

1lb 2 oz raw beets (beetroot)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1lb of lamb Merguez sausages or another spicy sausage of your choice
2 x 8oz pouches of the ready-cooked Puy lentils
3 oz watercress, stalks removed
FOR THE DRESSING
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Colmans English mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 350 F. Top and tail the beets, then peel and cut into wedges.
Put the beets in a roasting tin, drizzle over 2 tbsp of olive oil and toss with the onion, garlic and caraway seeds. Roast for 45 minutes until the beets are tender and the onion is sticky and charred.
In another roasting pan, put in 2 tbsp olive oil and the sausages. Put these in the same oven about 10 minutes later, roasting for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. (Alternatively, broil the sausages until golden brown on all sides)

Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. While the beets are still warm, toss with the lentils and dressing.
Add the watercress and serve with the sausages.

Crispy chicken with creamy lentils and chorizo

There’s a whole variety of flavors and textures going on in this dish. I buy the dried medium Spanish chorizo online and it lasts forever. I adore lentils and they soak up the flavors of the chorizo and chicken, and the creme fraiche and lemon give this creamy, tangy finish to the dish. This recipe is positively healing to eat!

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Serves 4

8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on.
4 tbsp olive oil
6 to 8 oz medium Spanish chorizo, peeled and cut into a small dice (You can substitute the chorizo for 4 to 6 oz bacon)
1 red onion, chopped small
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
8 oz puy lentils
2 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 to 3 tbsp creme fraiche
zest and juice of 1 lemon
small bunch of Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Season the chicken pieces well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy braiser with a lid and brown the chicken pieces in the hot oil for about 5 mins until golden all over. Remove and set aside.
Add the chorizo to the oil and brown gently. Remove and set aside. Pour away all the oil except for 1 tbsp.
Add the onion to the pan and cook for 5 mins then add the crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the lentils, stock and chorizo and stir well.
Put the chicken pieces on top, put the lid on and leave to simmer for about 30 mins.
Remove the lid and increase the heat.
Bubble for another 20 mins or so until the lentils are tender, most of the stock has been absorbed and the chicken is cooked through.
Stir in the creme fraiche, lemon zest and juice, mustard, parsley and seasoning.
Serve with a nice green salad on the side.

Dhal with spinach, tomatoes and coconut milk

I get more excited about non-meat recipes these days than anything. I almost always choose non-meat dishes in restaurants as I find them so much more interesting than a lump of meat on a plate.
This is lovely just served with some boiled rice.

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Serves 4

11 oz red lentils
1 heaped tsp freshly grated ginger
A handful of cilantro stalks finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped
14 fl oz coconut milk
15 oz tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
8 curry leaves (fresh is best or dried)
4 oz baby spinach leaves
juice of 1 lemon
3 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
salt and pepper

Put the lentils into a heavy-based pan with the ginger, cilantro stalks and a teaspoon of salt then pour over the coconut milk and about 21 fl oz of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, adding the tomatoes after 10 minutes.

After 30 minutes the lentils will have broken down and will be thick and creamy. Then whisk until the mixture becomes smooth. If it is too thick then you can add a little more water. Leave to simmer gently while you get the spice mixture ready.

Heat the oil in a small heavy-based frying pan. Add the turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, mustard seeds, red chilli and curry leaves. Leave them to temper. The oil should be bubbling and the seeds popping. This will take about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stir straight into the lentils reserving 1 tablespoon. Be careful, as the mixture may spit a little. Whisk until well combined and then stir in the baby spinach, lemon juice and spring onions. Test for seasoning and put some salt and pepper in, it if it needs it, but it may not.

Ladle the dahl into bowls, then sprinkle over the cilantro leaves, reserved spices and spring onions to serve.

Lemony lentils and chickpea salad with radishes and herbs

I love those main course salads you can serve for lunch or dinner on a hot summers day. This is a fresh and filling salad flavored with lemon, fresh mint and dill. Use the ready-cooked vacuum packed lentils you can buy and canned chickpeas for a meal ready in under 20 minutes. This salad keeps well for a few days in the fridge too.

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1 x 17 oz vacuum pack steamed Puy lentils
2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil

Lemon dressing
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons’ worth)
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
3 cloves garlic,minced
¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad
1 (14 ounce) can cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1/2 small-ish red onion, finely chopped
1 big bunch of radishes, sliced thin and roughly chopped
¼ cup packed fresh, leafy herbs, chopped (combination of mint and dill recommended)
Optional garnishes: sliced avocado, crumbled feta or goat cheese, handful of fresh leafy greens, like baby arugula

To make the dressing: Whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl.
In a microwaveable container, heat the lentils in a microwave for 3 to 4 minutes. When heated through, throw them into a large serving  bowl along with the garbanzo beans (chickpeas), chopped radishes, red onion and herbs. Drizzle in the dressing and toss to combine. Serve with avocado, crumbled cheese or fresh greens if you’d like.

Mejadra (A middle Eastern comfort food)

This is a spectacular, spicy, sweet, comforting dish from the book “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi. This is delicious served with a dollop of minted Greek plain yoghurt.

Serves 4

1 1/4 cups green or brown lentils
4 medium onions (1 1/2 lb)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
About 1 cup sunflower oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 cup basmati rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
salt and ground pepper

Place the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain and set aside

Peel the onions and slice thinly. Place on a large flat plate, sprinkle with the flour and 1 tsp salt, and mix well with your hands.
Heat the sunflower oil in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan placed over a high heat. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously.
Reduce the heat to medium high and carefully (it may spit!) add one-third of the sliced onion.
Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon. until the onion takes on a nice golden brown color and turns crispy. (adjust the temperature so the onion doesn’t fry too quickly and burn)
Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little more salt.
Do the same with the other two batches of onion; add a little extra if needed.

Wipe the saucepan in which you fried the onion clean and put in the cumin and coriander seeds.
Place over medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and plenty of ground black pepper.
Stir to coat the rice with the oil and then add the cooked lentils and the water/chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and simmer over a very low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, lift off the lid and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes.

Finally, add half the fried onion to the rice and lentils and stir gently with a fork.
Pile the mixture in a shallow bowl and top with the remaining onion