I celebrated the end of a vegetarian Lent with scampi and chicken bites at Scarborough’s wonderful Clock Café. This is my favourite cafe in the world, it’s fabulously old school with a menu that probably hasn’t changed in 40 years.
The next day I ate battered fish with chips at Whitby’s Quayside restaurant and was very happy.
The week before all that, when I was still being a vegetarian, I finally managed to make an Ottolenghi recipe work. I’m a big fan of red lentil dhal, which is a staple of mine, but this was the first time I’d attempted to cook with puy lentils which I’ve been told are tricky.
It was very tasty (even though I forgot the tiny sliced onion which I’d painstakingly prepared) but this is not surprising considering the amount of butter and oil involved. The cold hardboiled egg garnish really worked well with the hot lentils.
I have one more vegetarian recipe to tell you about next week. Bet you can’t wait.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s puy lentils
- 200g of puy lentils
- 30g of butter
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 3 medium tomatoes, skinned and cut into 1cm squares (I used a third of a tin of tinned tomatoes, chopped)
- 25g of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoons of tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper
- ½ a small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook according to the pack instructions until completely cooked, drain and set aside. Yotam suggested that this would take 15-20 minutes. My packet suggested cooking for 60 minutes but I found they were done after half an hour. If you can squash a lentil easily between your fingers then they are done.
Put the butter and oil in a frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils and cook for a couple of minutes stirring all the time.
Then add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes more, stirring all the time until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up.
If at any time it looks too thick then you can add a little more water.
Serve on a platter with the sliced onion, the rest of the coriander, a drizzle of olive oil and the hard boiled eggs on the side.
Serve with homemade flat bread (or bought naan or pitta if you can’t be bothered).