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Beautiful little marbled things… these Puy lentils are my favourite!

Autumn evenings are making me think about heartier food to make for the family. Do you use dried beans and lentils in your cooking? I do and they are useful and versatile store cupboard ingredients. This post I am focusing on lentils.

Lentils are cheap, easy to cook and are good for you too – full of dietary fibre, protein, folate and iron. The only thing to know about them really is that there are two types: those that go mushy when cooked and those that don’t. The mushy ones are yellow, red or orange, and the non-mushy ones are green or brown. I really love the tiny French Puy ones (pronounced ‘pweee’). I use the mushy ones in soups or stews and the non-mushy ones in salads, or as a side dish or base for richer food.

How to cook lentils

Ingredients

1 cup lentils

2½ cups water

(no salt)

Method

  1. Rinse the lentils well under the tap and then add them and the water to a large saucepan, bring them to the boil, and simmer for 30 minutes or so until they are cooked but still have a tiny bite to them.
    Note: Don’t add salt to the water as this seems to stop the lentils cooking properly; you can boil them for hours in salty water and they stay hard!

Sausages with Mashed Potato and Puy Lentils

Ingredients

4-8 sausages (depending on how hungry you are and how big your sausages are)

6 peeled big potatoes (Agria is a good mashing potato)

3/4 cup lentils 3 cups water (no salt)

1 onion

1 clove garlic

olive oil

fresh herbs

Method

Serves Four

  1. Start grilling or frying the sausages.
  2. Chop the peeled potatoes into quarters and bring them to the boil in a saucepan of cold water. Cook on a medium heat until a sharp knife easily goes into one of the pieces. Mash (with butter/milk or mustard).
  3. Rinse the lentils and boil them in the unsalted water until cooked (about half an hour).
  4. In a frying pan, cook a thinly-sliced onion, some thinly-sliced garlic and olive oil until soft and just starting to brown.
  5. Drain the lentils and then add the contents of the fry pan and stir.
  6. Season really well and add extra olive oil or fresh herbs to taste. The lentils can be served hot or warm.

Lentils and Brown Rice

Ingredients

equal quantities of lentils and brown rice (I cook ¼ of a cup of each for two people as a side dish)

Method

Serves Two

  1. Lentils cook in the same time as brown rice so you can cook them together.
  2. So when you are cooking rice to accompany a meal, make it 50-50 lentils-rice and cook both in the same pot for 45 minutes until tender.
    Note: You can also use the mix as a meal in itself (it is a complete protein) and just add veggies and/or a sauce.

Ham and Lentil Salad

Ingredients

a ham hock (the butcher sells ones of various sizes – choose the amount of ham you want in the final dish)

2 cups Puy lentils

5-6 cups water

small bunch herbs

one brown onion

mustardy salad dressing*

one red onion

2 sticks celery

Method

This will make enough for a couple of meals

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté some finely chopped brown onion in a little oil. When the onion has softened, add the ham hock, Puy lentils, water and herbs.
  2. Bring to the boil, skim any impurities off with a slotted spoon, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender and the meat is starting to come away from the bone (about 30 mins).
  3. Take the ham out and chop the meat up into bite-sized pieces
  4. Drain the lentils/onion/herbs and mix together with the cut up ham in a big mixing bowl.
  5. Add a good mustardy dressing and stir through.
  6. Serve warm (you could add some finely chopped red onion or chopped celery for a bit of crunch too).

*The Dressing
Here I would use a mustardy vinaigrette.
1. Put 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, 175ml olive oil, pinch of caster sugar, salt and freshly-ground black pepper into a clean jam jar and shake well.

The recipes are mine. However, the images of the finished recipes I found online. I got them from:
a) ham hock and lentils
b) lentils and rice
c) sausages and lentils

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag #coromandelflavour – I love to see what you’ve been making and any feedback is really welcome.