We’re in the tail end of January. The only things left in the garden are billions of parsnips , mustard greens and the Spring Cabbages, which like their name, won’t be ready to pick until – Spring (funnily enough).
I’ve been simultaneously craving comfort food and something a little more astringent to perk me up. This dish falls into the comforting range. The meatyness of the lentils contrasted with the juicy tomatoes and the slight bitterness of the mustard greens is deeply savoury, warming and quite soothing. It goes quite nicely with the Grapefruit, Fennel, Avocado salads I’ve been obsessing about. If you use pre-packed lentils ( I love the Puy lentils from Merchant Gourmet) this turns into a speedy dinner in 10 mins. Or if you have a bit more time ( 30-40mins) cook the lentils from dried- much more economical!
Lentils are so SO delicious plus have the added bonus of being high in protein & iron. What’s not to like?! They also work well with fish and meat too- just in case you have a meat eater who you need to accomodate. The Gardener likes to make crispy bacon shards to sprinkle over this. Similarly squishy bits of soft goats cheese or fried cubes of halloumi work really well as an addition.
Lentils love all kinds of other greens if you don’t have Mustard greens- Chard, spinach, rocket or watercress all complement the lentils nicely, making this as easy to make if you have a bag of rocket in the fridge as if you have random greens still growing mid-winter in the back garden.
What’s your favourite lentils recipe??
Lentils, Mustard Greens & Tomatoes Bowl
- 1 – Use 1 pack of pre-made lentils such as Merchant Gourmet packs
- 2- Make up a batch of lentils – Use puy or small green lentils for this-Use 1/2 cup for two people – you will need a bay leaf, a garlic clove, half an onion (unchopped) and a teaspoon stock powder
For the rest:
- 1 bunch mustard greens, chopped into slices, with the inner stems removed. ( I know I have more or less the right amount when I have half my chopping board heaped with greens… remember they wilt down loads)
- 15-20 cherry tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves- smashed – to infuse the flavour in but so you can pick out the pieces later
- 3-4 sprigs thyme- leaves only,
- 1/2 fresh chilli (again you will fish this out later- this is an optional extra!)
- A glug of wine if you have it handy
- 1 tbs Olive Oil or other oil
- salt & pepper
If you are cooking the lentils yourself:
- Put all the ingredients ( you will fish out the herbs/garlic clove/half onion later) in a saucepan & cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for approx half hour, or until the lentils are tender but not smooshed.
- Remove the onion, garlic, bayleaf etc and season to taste- put the lentils aside until needed. You can use this basic recipe for loads of dishes!
To make the whole recipe:
- Put the tomatoes, garlic, chilli & herbs along with the oil in a saucepan over moderate heat on the stove, cook until the tomatoes soften and start to split a bit. If you accidently char them a bit- so much the better , makes for more roasty flavour.
- Pull out the bits of garlic and chilli- these should have infused the tomatoes and juices with their garlicy spicyness.
- Add in the lentils, and the wine if you have it. Let them all cook down for a minute or so.
- Add in the greens, and let them cook down. – This will take around 5 mins. Put the lid on the pot if you need to.
- Taste for seasoning- and serve! – Add bits and bobs if you need to- pine-nuts, cheese- bits of bacon if you are The Gardener…