Posts Tagged: lentils

Nov 09

Seafood supper – scallops with chilli, parsley and tomatoes



I’m a huge seafood fan – razor clams, cherry clams, oysters and the like. Scallops, however, are one of those ingredients whose pleasure utterly escaped me. I just didn’t get it. To me they seemed rather like textured protein – without any redeeming factors!

Then, on two separate occasions these past two weeks, I’ve eaten such exceptional examples that my mind may have been changed.
Scallops in a cep broth at Martin Wishart’s fantastic Edinburgh restaurant were sweet and exquisitely cooked – a perfect golden sheen on the outside providing a welcome depth.

My second encounter was at Theo Randall’s incredible Italian restaurant at The Intercontinental Park Lane, where the quality of ingredients is second to none.

Theo’s cooking is wonderful in its simplicity – using the standard of produce they do, little is needed to let the food sing. For this recipe, try getting hold of the best scallops you can find – track down a local fishmonger if possible. The results will be worth it in the end.

Click here for Theo’s recipe for Cape
Sante – pan fried scallops served in the shell with chilli, parsley, datterini
tomatoes, capers, lemon and lentils di Castelluccio and rocket

Sep 09

Roll out the ricotta for a light lentil salad


Ricotta is one of those ingredients that needs quite a lot done to it to make it exciting. I personally love the fact that it is rather the blank canvas and perfect for both sweet and savoury. In the restaurant where I work we do a fantastic lemon and ricotta cake, delicious, squishy and sharp.

It can be quite wet, so baking it adds an interesting extra layer of textures and flavours as in this recipe for a late summer salad, full of vibrant herbs to perk you up on a near-Autumnal evening.

The earthy lentils add a wonderful contrast of texture. I wrote a note in the margin of this recipe suggesting that a roasted red pepper cut into strips might make a lovely addition.

Lentil and baked ricotta salad

Ingredients (serves 2 as a light salad)

  • 75g lentils
  • 200g ricotta
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • A handful basil
  • A handful mint
  • half a small packet of cress

For the dressing

  • 1tsp Dijon
  • 1 tbs chestnut honey
  • 2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbs olive oil


Cook the lentil in stock or water for 12-15 minutes until cooked but still with bite. Set aside to cool.

Cut the ricotta into ½ cm slices and bake at 180 for 20 minutes until starting to brown.

Quarter the tomatoes, finely slice the red onion and chop the herbs. Mix these all together gently with the cress and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooled lentils and crumble in the cheese.

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together and pour over the salad. Serve with crusty bread.

Jun 09

A dal recipe to soothe the soul

Thumbnail image for dal_560.jpg

Dal is deeply comforting. It deserves a place next to our favourite comfort foods – Somehow eating a bowl of the bubbling, unctuous yellow dish is warming for the soul. Its bobbly surface is glossy and inviting, ripe for dunking chapati or naan. Maybe it’s the mixture of nourishing split peas and spices or maybe it’s the ease with which it is eaten.

The masala is what gives dal its heart. A mixture that varies from house to house across India I’m sure, it normally starts off with the cornerstones of Indian cookery – onion, ginger, chilli and garlic – to which spices are added giving depth and warmth to the dal.
The masala is mixed into the cooked split peas and the lot stirred together – indeed whisked to add a certain smoothness. At this point I suppose you could add coconut milk for some extra richness, but this would be gilding the lily, for dal is also easy on the tummy as long as one doesn’t over-eat.

Satisfying and nourishing and child’s play to boot, this dish is best described as a warm hug, perfect for a rainy day. This recipe is based on one that comes from the charming Cooking with my Indian Mother-in-law, with the addition of some spinach for a little contrast and a nod towards virtuous eating.

Despite the name of the recipe, it tastes far from basic. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – most of them will probably be in your store cupboard.

Basic dal

Ingredients (serves 4 with rice)

•    175g yellow split peas
•    50g red split peas
•    4 green finger chillies
•    1 fat clove garlic
•    A thumb size piece of ginger
•    1 ½ tsp salt
•    2 tomatoes
•    1 tbs groundnut or other flavourless oil
•    ½ tsp mustard seeds
•    1 small onion, finely chopped
•    ½ tbs butter
•    ½ tsp dhana jiru (see instructions)
•    ¼ tsp turmeric
•    ½ tbs finely chopped coriander stems
•    Lemon or lime juice to taste
•    A small bunch of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
•    2 handfuls of spinach


Make the dhana jiru – toast a quarter of a tsp cumin seeds and the same of coriander seeds until fragrant. Pound in a pestle and mortar to a powder.

Wash the peas in water until it gets clear. Drain and put in a large pot with 2 litres of water and bring to the boil without a lid. Skim the scum that rises and cook for around 40 minutes or until the dal is soft.

While this is cooking, make the masala – top and tail two of the chillies and cut into short lengths.  Add to a small blender with the garlic, ginger and salt and tomatoes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds and onion. Fry until lightly golden. Add the butter and when melted add the spices. Cook for a few minutes before adding the tomato mixture and coriander stems. Increase the heat and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.

When the dal is cooked, use a whisk to beat it until as smooth as possible. Add the masala and the remaining two chillies, left whole. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes until quite thick – traditionally it should be thin but it’s much nicer when like this.

Taste and season with lime or lemon juice and salt until the balance is right. Scatter over the coriander leaves and serve with rice and chapatti, if desired.

Mar 09

A special treat to help take the load off on Mother’s Day



A mum’s life is a busy life, so for Mother’s Day I’m suggesting turning the tables and giving her an evening off. The idea is print off this delicious but simple recipe, which is easily within the
preparation skills of even the most culinary challenged, and leave it somewhere around the house as a suggestion for those usually on the receiving end of your cooking efforts.

With any luck you’ll get to put your feet up, relax and have a yummy dinner placed in front of you. A Mother’s Day gift in itself…

Pancetta wrapped salmon with balsamic lentils

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 salmon fillets (approx 200g each)
  • 20 slices of pancetta
  • 2 tbs
    creme fraiche
  • 1 tbs
    horseradish, to taste
  • 200g puy lentils
  • ½ litre chicken stock
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • About
    20 capers
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil


Mix creme fraiche and horseradish. Season with salt and pepper, cover and leave in fridge till needed.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Lie five slices of the pancetta on a chopping board in strips just overlapping each other and place the salmon on top, then wrap the pancetta up and round it to cover the salmon.

Pop lentils in a pan with chicken stock. Put them on a low heat, simmering, for about 15-20 minutes. Try them as they get past the 15 minute mark. When they’re cooked, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, capers and chopped shallot and stir.

About half way through the lentil-cooking process, put fish in the oven. It will take about ten minutes, and it’s better to under-cook than overcook. Alternatively you could do it in a frying pan – about 3-4 minutes on each side.

To serve, place a large spoonful of lentils in the middle of the plate. Place fish on top of lentils, and spoon some horseradish sauce over the top.

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