Lentil Bolognaise

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Lentil Bolognaise

It was Nigel Slater’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to cook one of his newer dishes to mark the occasion. His writing, his cookery programmes and his approach to all things food is so encouraging and inspiring to writers like myself. The way he creates dishes like this one has given me so much confidence in creating my own recipes.

Hey, ok, enough of the eulogising!

This is a really tasty dish and a fab way to eat lentils.

For 4

2 carrots finely diced
1 onion finely sliced
3 tbsps of olive oil
230 gm Puy lentils (or any green ones will do if you cannot get Puy)
1 litre of chicken stock or veg stock
400 gm pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta
2 tbsps crème fraîche
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
50 gm lardons – you could leave these out if you wish – esp. vegetarians!

Heat the oil in a pan – I used a non stick wok – and fry the onion and carrot until both are soft and the carrot lightly browned.

Rinse the lentils then add to the pan. Stir and add the stock

IMG_5061

Lower the heat and simmer for around 35 – 40 minute until the lentils are just soft. Season with a little salt. Cook the pasta. Whilst this is happening remove half the lentil mixture, including liquid and add to a blender. Blizt to a puree. Return it to the pan. Stir it in along with the crème fraîche and the balsamic vinegar. I then pan fried the lardons separately and added them also.

This is a really cheap and satisfying dish. It tastes, as Nigel Slater says, wonderfully ‘earthy’ and I cannot tell you how amazing the flavour is considering how basic the ingredients are – it is a marvellous example of the the alchemy of food!

Please, please make this!

Pan fried pork tenderloin with Puy lentils…

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Pan fried pork tenderloin with Puy lentils...

Lentils – I love them…my kids love them…we all love them…and Puy lentils are just so toothsomely moreish and retain a little bite even after cooking that is somehow magical. It’s a lentil love-in!

And I had a really stupendous piece of pork tenderloin that needed a good accompaniment – it was a marriage made, if not in heaven, well certainly in my kitchen!

Tenderloin is so versatile and almost as lean as chicken breast. We often have it sliced and pan fried with a pepper sauce – but tonight was Mr P.Lentil’s turn.

This is a dish i have mentioned on here before I am sure – but here it is again – it is a basic standby that could accompany anything – last time out it was with belly pork and sausages if I recall – but it is equally as good with ham shanks.

Anyway – let’s get on shall we – enough reminiscing!

Pre heat oven to 160c

You need for the lentils –

60 gm of lardons or cubed smoky bacon – or pancetta even
340 gm Puy lentils – or any green ones if not
Some chopped fresh rosemary but you’d be fine with dried
A large red onion chopped finely – or white if no reds handy!
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
800 ml of chicken stock
red wine vinegar
olive oil

I, as you know by now, have to fiddle – so I also added later on some chopped okra left over from the other night. It went v well!

Pan fry the onion and lardons in olive oil in a stock pot or large casserole. When the lardons start to colour add the garlic and rosemary. 2 more minutes should be fine – then rinse the lentils and add them to the pan.

Fry for one more minute to coat the lentils. They all need to get chummy. Add the stock – pop a lid on – bring to the boil. Into the oven for 1 hour.

I rolled the tenderloin of pork in cumin seeds, crushed black pepper, rock salt and chilli seed. Let it sit in this for at least an hour if poss.

Then slice it about into about half a centimetre slices – maybe a tad wider. Pan fry on a highish heat in olive oil for about 5 minutes per side.

Take out the lentils after an hour – please do check them tho on the way – they may, may need a little more water if they are drying up too much – they shouldn’t. They should absorb most of the liquid – not all. I transferred them to a large roasting dish, stirred in a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a drizzle or two of good olive oil – and this time I stirred in a some pre cooked slices of Jersey Royal potatoes thinly sliced, plus some chopped pan fried okra.

I added the pork medallions to the dish and popped them back in the oven with some foil over – heat off – to let them all get to know each other even better. I also opened another bottle of mighty fine Shiraz /Petit Verdot.

Then it all arrived at the table and was purred over… then consumed with relish!

I was hoping some would be left over for lunch today…but it all
vamoosed! Hey ho!