Lentils are of Middle Eastern origin and one of the earliest cultivated crops. They are nutritionally rich as they are full of protein, vitamin B, iron and phosphorus. These tasty legumes come in a variety of colours and shapes and are an indispensable part of many diets throughout the world. Such a versatile and humble staple, the lentil can be used from soups and stews to salads. The recipe below is simple, healthy and can be used as a main or side dish.
PREP TIME: 10 MINS
COOK TIME: 25-30 MINS
SERVES: 5 PEOPLE
1 cup brown lentils (or could use puy or French Green lentils)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 medium shallots, finely-dice (roughly cup diced shallot)
500g mixed mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup creme fraiche (healthy option: use a plant-based milk)
3-4 kale stalks, stems removed and leaves sliced (1 packed cups of sliced kale) or two good handfuls of baby kale
2 good handfuls baby spinach, blanched
Saffron and garlic bread:
1 loaf of ciabatta or bread of your choice
100g butter, softened
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
Good pinch saffron threads
1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add lentils along with a good pinch of salt. I sometimes add good-quality stock to add flavour. Simmer lentils until they’re just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Take a large pot and heat olive oil to medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 3-4 mins. Add sliced mushrooms and stir until they start to moisten and soften. Add garlic and thyme and stir. After about 1 min, add white wine and soy sauce and thoroughly combine. Add vegetable stock and bring mixture to a boil. If you are using a plant-based milk, add now. Simmer for 3-4 mins.
3. Next ladle half of mushroom mixture into a blender. Make sure you add a decent amount of liquid. Blend on high until completely smooth. Tip mixture back into pot and add cooked lentils.
4. Meanwhile, make the saffron garlic bread. Slice bread into desired thickness. Take a tablespoon of the butter and melt it with the saffron. Thoroughly combine. Mix butter, garlic and melted saffron butter in a bowl and combine thoroughly.
5. Spread over the cut bread. Just before serving, place on a baking sheet, then cook under a hot grill for 5-7 mins until toasty and lightly golden.
6. Meanwhile, add sliced kale and blanched spinach to mushroom and lentil mix, and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and add creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper. The texture should be thick and creamy. Serve immediately with bread.