Lockdown Lentils

St John's style green lentils

St John’s Style Lentils

So, we’ve all been buying up huge stores of pulses – sensible, as they keep so well, are wonderfully versatile and highly nutritious BUT the big question is …Will all these pulses be cooked and eaten? Or have they been stockpiled, ready for a worst-case scenario that will hopefully never come?

Over the last few weeks I’ve been bombarded with questions about which lentil for which dish, how to cook them and more inspiration for what to do with them.

So, I’ve finally resurrected my blog (about time too) and will give you a few pointers. …In a nutshell:

Tiny lentils such as Puy, Pardina, Castellucio, Beluga and their equally small, anonymous relatives such as French small green lentils or, the British grown, Hodmedod’s olive green lentils are perfect for salads or any dish where you want the lentil to keep its definition and shape.

Here are a few of my recipes for tiny lentils ( you’ll have to spin down each blog for the recipe – you never know, you might even read it!)
Simple Lentil Salad ( this made me SO nostalgic about being at Chassignoles, in France)
Roast Vegetable and Lentil Salad
Rhubarb  and Lentil Curry ( this would work with the bigger lentils below too)
Tangy Orange Lentils ( could also work with larger lentils)
Or you could find the glorious green lentil dish in the featured picture above on the @St.John.Restaurant Instagram.

The flatter, bigger lentils, usually referred to, quite simply, as brown or green lentils, are great for meaty or mushroomy stews where you want the lentils to go soft and partially collapse. These are particularly good added to a Bolognese sauce or any ragù in place of some of the meat, making ethically sourced meat stretch a little further – they will be tender by the time you’ve simmered your meat for a good hour to concentrate the flavours.

Middle Eastern Lentils ( So good mixed in with rice as a mujadarra too)
Wild Mushroom and Lentil Soup (With Puy but could be with any green/brown lentil)
Haddock with Creamy Lentils ( Just as good with a poached egg).
Mushroom, Walnut and Lentil Ragù  (A brilliant veggie recipe from Elly Pear that works just as well with the tiny lentils too)

Red lentils are basically skinned green or brown lentils that have split in half. They cook really quickly and collapse down completely and so are ideal for soups and stews.
Coconut, Squash and Lentil soup ( over on the fab’ Fiona Beckett’s Matching Food and Wine site)
Simple Tomato Dal (on The British Dal Site where you’ll find loads lentil more inspiration).

And a few tips
* Lentils don’t require any soaking although an hour can be a good idea for beautifully even cooking.
* Simply cooked lentils with a bit of seasoning and olive oil will keep in your fridge for 5 days.
* Pulses freeze brilliantly -so no need for any food waste
* Lentils need plenty of seasoning and some good oil, or fat, to really make them sing.

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