Lentils get a bad rap. In fact, legumes seem to in general. I have no idea why because they are so tasty, versatile and inexpensive. They are also little powerhouses of nutrition and we should be getting our kids to eat loads of them.
This is what I like to call a conversion recipe; one that will tempt the people who have previously dismissed the humble lentil as boring.
It is French dish made traditionally with lardons (pieces of very fatty smoked bacon). I find chunks of thickly sliced flat pancetta work really well in this, but smoky bacon is fine too. It makes a great accompaniment to a simple grilled chicken breast or is delicious on its own with some toasted sourdough.
Go forth and eat lentils people! Or am I preaching to the converted?
Do you love a legume?
LENTILS WITH BACON (serves 6-8)
2 ½ cups of brown or green lentils, well rinsed and picked over
1 tablespoon oil
200g bacon or flat pancetta, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ½ cups chicken stock
2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream (optional)
Salt and black pepper
1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley to garnish
Place the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat and boil gently for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 5-7 minutes until crisp then transfer to a plate.
Stir the onion into the fat reserved in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until just softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute then stir in the tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, bay leaf and lentils.
Add the stock and cover the pan. Cook on a medium-low heat for 25-45 minutes until the lentils are just tender, stirring occasionally. Add a little more stock or water to the pan if needed.
Uncover the pan and allow any excess liquid to evaporate. Add the reserved bacon and cream if using and heat through for 1-2 minutes.
Serve with a scattering of chopped parsley on the top.