- Food & Drink
Lentils with spring greens
I’ve given up meat for Lent. After a fashion.
It would be truer to say that I’m avoiding meat for Lent, ducking into doorways, hiding behind newspapers and studiously staring at my shoes whenever a nice, juicy, bloody steak walks past, dribbling gravy in its wake.
It’s because I test recipes as part of my job. One of the key aspects of recipe testing is trying at least a forkful of whatever you’ve made to check it doesn’t taste of arse (unless that’s what you’re aiming for). So I’m going to be forced to eat little mouthfuls of meat at least one day a week. And the butchery class I’m booked into in mid-March is unlikely to result in many expertly carved nut cutlets.
But Lent comes with a weekly dispensation, so rather than marking my fast with a Sunday blood-and-guts feast, I’m making do with snatches of animal protein here and there. Even with this cage of paper thin resolutions, I’m not sure how long I’ll last. I’m not known for my discipline.
However, meals like this one helps keep me on the straight and narrow. The lentils are thick with spices and a smudge of chilli ups the heat. They were delicious forked up with a pile of fragrant pilau rice. You can up the dried chilli or swap it for a fresh chilli fried with the onions and garlic to make it hotter, and if you’re labouring under a glut of kale or cabbage, then switch them in for the spring greens.
Lentils with spring greens
Serves 2 generously
150g dried red lentils
850ml hot vegetable stock
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp oil (I used coconut)
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
100g spring greens, finely shredded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Place the lentils in a pan with 600ml vegetable stock, the ginger, bay leaf, cinnamon sick and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.
3 Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Fry over a medium heat, stirring, for 10 minutes, until softened and starting to colour then add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and chilli flakes. Fry, stirring, for a further 3–4 minutes until everything is coated and the spices are aromatic.
4 Add the onion and spices to the lentils with the remaining stock and stir to mix. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spring greens and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the lentils are thick. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
5 Taste and season. Serve hot with rice, roti or naan bread.