Recipe: Luscious lentils

Goat's cheese and lentils

Goat's cheese and lentils - Credit: Archant

Lentils are a staple food in many parts of the world. A type of legume, they are high in protein, low in fat and a good source of fibre, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Lentils are also a significant source of folate, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. They make an inexpensive, convenient and a healthy alternative to animal sources for protein and can be enhanced with so many different flavours - try the earthy accompaniment of mushrooms, bacon, thyme, rosemary and an acidic cheese such as a feta or goat’s.

Brown lentils are most common and can be found in most grocery stores. They are mild in flavour, often described as earthy and can be used in a variety of recipes. Brown lentils soften when cooked but still hold their shape. They can become mushy if they are cooked too long. Use them for soup recipes.

French green or Puy lentil are also common. They were originally grown in the Le Puy region of France, hence their name. Puy lentils are often considered the best flavoured variety because they have a peppery taste. They take a bit longer to cook, but Puy lentils tend to stay firm. Use them in dishes that need a little crunch, such as salads.

Red lentils are commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. They are actually brown massor lentils with the hulls removed. Red lentils have a mild, sweet flavour. When cooked, they turn a golden colour. Red lentils do not hold their shape very well and tend to become mushy. Use them for purees or as a thickener for a recipe.


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GRILLED GOAT’S CHEESE WITH WARM LENTIL SALAD

INGREDIENTS

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170g / 6oz puy lentils, rinsed in cold water.

1 sprig of thyme

2 bay leaves

1 clove garlic, bruised

290ml / ½ pint vegetable stock

1 TBSP oil

110g / 4oz bacon, chopped

1 red onion, sliced

2 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1 TBSP soft dark brown sugar

4 small, individual goat’s cheese – crottin

55g / 2oz walnuts, roughly chopped

5 sage leaves, chopped

flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

Put the lentils into a small saucepan with the thyme, bay leaves and garlic. Cover with stock and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender.

In another saucepan heat the oil and cook the bacon until golden and the fat has been rendered (melted).

Remove form the pan and drain on absorbent paper.

Add the red onion and sweat until soft. Add the balsamic vinegar and soft dark brown sugar and allow the onions to caramelise.

Preheat the grill. Cut the crottin in half and grill, cut side up, until the tops are brown and bubbly.

Drain the lentils, add the bacon, walnuts, chopped herbs, red onion mixture and mix well. Season well.

Divide the lentils between four plates and top with the grilled cheese.

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