The LAST new recipe

It’s all got a bit beyond me, this constant experimenting with new vegetarian recipes. My problem is simple, and probably incomprehensible to most cooks: I get stressed by the various timings.

Let’s say a recipe instructs me to “cover and allow to simmer actively for 8-10 minutes, and meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce”. What almost invariably happens is that I take too long to make the sauce and the [whatever], simmering away with gusto, has thickened down to the point of being glutinous. (No, not gluttonous – that’s moi !)

Multiply this by one, two or three other stages and you have a large, stressed and rapidly becoming enraged cooking person.

OK, so it don’t happen every time; and I have certainly taken to reading any recipe through exhaustively .. but as I’ve generally forgotten the opening sentence by the time I’m half-way through, that doesn’t help enormously. Sighh .. No: senility and increasing grumpiness combine to produce a steamy kitchen !

ANYWAY ..

Here goes for the last recipe I’d never made before.

Pay attention this way, Sue !   :)


Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Root Vegies mash

prep: 15′   cook: 45′   serves 4

Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 4 red onions, thinly sliced
    • 200g puy lentils
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
    • 1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 350g peeled and diced carrots
    • 350g peeled and diced swede
    • 350g peeled and diced potato
    • 50g parmigiano, finely grated

Method

    • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions for 8 mins until softened.
    • Put a kettle on to boil. Stir the lentils, rosemary, stock powder and balsamic vinegar into the onions, pour in 1 litre boiling water, add seasoning, and simmer for 25-30 mins with the occasional stir until the lentils are soft but still have some bite.
    • Meanwhile, cook the root veg for 25 mins. (I can only imagine it’s really exciting if you get these two stages to match ..)
    • Mash the root veg with a masher. Add seasoning.
    • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lentil mixture into a pie dish, top with the mash, then scatter over the cheese.
    • While it’s still hot, grill the pie to melt the cheese
    • Serve pie with cooked green veg. My favourite green veg is cabbage, but broccolini passes muster; and you should prepare ’em small. Use one of these

for cabbage, and not only will you shred it wonderfully fine in  no time at all,  but you will also festoon practically everything around you with little light green bits. Yesss !   :)


Astoundingly, this is REALLY tasty. Well, I think I’m surprised by the lentils part: I expected the bottom of the shepherd’s pie to be fairly bland, but it was extremely flavoursome. Of course, I should’ve said “is”, as there’s enough left over for even the largest and grumpiest of cooking persons to have several more meals out of it. Which is how I eat, basically. And I don’t get bored, either.

So that was it. From now on I shall simply rotate among the plentiful number of recipes I’ve made before and know I like. There are so many of these that already I’ve reached the stage of saying “Oh, I’d forgotten all about haloumi pasta ! Great ! That’s my next dinner !”.

My first lentil recipe

I went to a shop that sells bulk foods, a couple of weeks ago, and bought (inter plura alia) half a kilo of small sort of green lentils. Today I decided it was time to cook the little buggers – not the whole ½k ! – and found in my recipe files the following:


Borlotti & Lentil Casserole

Prep: 10’ – Cook: 1 hr 30’ – Servings: 6 portions

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 red capsicum,finely chopped
  • parsley – stalks chopped fine, leaves rough
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsps smoked paprika
  • 2 tsps dried oregano
  • tin chopped tomatoes
  • tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
  • 200g puy lentils, rinsed
  • tsp Massel vegetable stock powder
  • 3 squares dark chocolate

Instructions

  • In a large casserole heat the oil and add the onion, leek, pepper, parsley stalks, garlic, chilli and spices. Fry gently for 4-5 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture gets too dry.
  • Add the tomatoes, then refill the empty tin with water, tip this into the pan, re-fill it again to half-way and add this too.
  • Tip in the borlottis, lentils, stock cube and chocolate, stir, then bring to the boil.
  • Turn down to low, cover and cook for 1½—2 hours until the lentils are tender and sauce has thickened. Remove the lid for a while if there’s too much liquid. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  • Stir through the parsley just before serving, and top with sour cream.

OK. That’s the recipe and here is my dinner a little while ago:

See the sort of hazy part inside the right-hand top quadrant ? – that’s steam.   :)

Because I’m strange, I had it with couscous rather than rice; and I can tell you from my own somewhat gluttonous experience that it tastes very nice indeed !

HOWEVER ! See what I put in red text ? – the cooking time ? Well, I dunno what lentils are like where this recipe comes from (and I have zero memory of where I found it), but my small more-or-less-green lentils were perfectly cooked in half an hour ! So please keep in mind – should you, like me, like the sound of lentils and borlottis together – to keep tabs on your cooking time, yes ?

And if you do, you’ll derive as much enjoyment from this yummy and healthy vegetarian meal as I did. And will ..