I’m not sure what I was aiming for with the flavour balance on this one, I just started adding herbs and spices I happen to love. The result was a delightful surprise! My kids who aren’t that fond of lentils when they stay whole (they prefer mushy cooked-down texture of dishes like dahl) lapped this up and went back for seconds. It’s summer here so a stew isn’t the kind of thing I’d usually think of making but it really works with its south of France / Moroccan / Greek flavours. This comes together really easily with little effort once it’s all in the pot so although the cooking time is quite long, most of it is unattended. 🙂
1 cup dried Puy lentils (those are the little round dark green/blue ones)
1 large red onion, diced
500 g sliced mushrooms
1 large eggplant, diced
1 very large fat garlic clove - or ⅔ smaller ones
1 medium red capsicum, diced
½ bottle passata (or a can of chopped tomatoes, pureed)
Same volume of water as passata (fill up the empty jar / can)
1 t vegetable stock powder
1 t turmeric
1 t ground coriander
1 t smoked paprika
¼ cup apple juice
⅓ cup white wine
3 small bay leaves
1 t marjoram
1-2 T lemon juice
Small handful fresh mint leaves, (about 12 large leaves) chopped
** NOTE: t = teaspoon; T = tablespoon.
Put the lentils into a smallish saucepan, cover with water by a good inch or so and bring to the boil whilst you prep your veg. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on. They should take around 20 minutes.
Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and dry-fry the onion, mushroom and garlic until the moisture is released. Add the capsicum, eggplant and spices and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
(You can use a large casserole dish for the whole cooking process, however you need to avoid stewing the vegetables or their flavour won't be brought out, that's why I'm starting off in the pan).
- Check your lentils and drain if cooked. You want them to be al dente, not hard and not breaking apart.
Pour into a large casserole dish (which has a close fitting lid), add the passata / tomatoes, water and stock powder, apple juice and white wine, bay leaves and marjoram. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and put on the lid and simmer until eggplant very tender and falling apart (about 20-30 mins).
Add your cooked lentils and simmer, covered for another 10 or so minutes.
Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and mint and leave to sit whilst you prepare / serve your accompaniments. Don't worry about it cooling down (especially if you're serving it in summer) as It is actually much better served at room temperature than "straight from the pot" hot.
We had ours with large gently boiled new potatoes (I put them on to cook at the same time as the lentils). Would also be great with couscous / rice or just good crusty bread. Some people might like to add hot chilli sauce at the table. (Yes I'm looking at you my chilli-sauce addict of a husband..).
Another family favourite. Creamy but low fat sauce with garlic and lemon poured over wholegrain pasta and your favourite springtime vegetables. Top with toasted pine nuts and / or a parmesan type topping. Try grinding almonds with some nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon zest for a delicious sprinkle.
Meanwhile, in a high speed blender blend cashews, soy milk, lemon zest, garlic, onion until smooth and creamy. Amount of milk will depend on how thick you want it and how much it’s sucked up by the pasta, you can always add more milk to the pasta once you combine it.
Put the vegetables on to steam .
Taste cashew cream and adjust seasoning/flavourings as desired: more lemon / garlic or onion/salt pepper.
Once pasta is and vegetables are ready, drain and return to pan over a very low light, add the cashew cream, vegetables (once ready) basil and pine nuts.
Well seeing as Christmas is fast approaching I thought the obvious recipe to share would be the nut roast I make every year. It has changed a little over the years, the main overhaul 2 years ago when I made it vegan by removing the egg, but also mixing the mushrooms in to the mix rather than as a separate layer, as I found it would always break in two when I sliced it. This is an OLD recipe. From a Sarah Brown book called Vegetarian Kitchen published in 1984. So to say this has passed the test of time is an understatement!