Put the lentils in a saucepan and add plenty of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minute only, then drain. Return the lentils to the pan and pour on just enough water to cover them. Add the bay leaf, onion and parsley stalks, if using. Bring back to a very gentle simmer, and cook slowly for about half an hour, until tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, to make the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar until emulsified.
When the lentils are done, drain them well and discard the herbs and onion. While still warm, combine with a good half of the dressing. Leave until cooled, then taste and adjust the seasoning; you could add a little more salt, sugar, pepper or lemon juice if needed.
Trim the fennel, removing the tough outer layer (unless they are young and very fresh). Halve the bulb(s) vertically, then slice as thinly as you can, tip to base.
Pile about two-thirds of the lentils into wide serving bowls. Scatter over the rocket and fennel and trickle over the rest of the dressing. Scatter over the remaining lentils and serve.
I try to support our local producers. As often I can I buy local fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, meat and more at The Food Assembly which started in January this year. It still offers a small selection of vegetable, but I accept the challenge to cook with this offer. The products
Preheat the oven to 190 °C/375 °F/gas mark 5. Place a medium-sized frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and butter, wait until it foams, then add the sliced onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté for 12 minutes, until soft and starting to take on a little colour.
Throw in the kohlrabi, potatoes and thyme, and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing the mixture occasionally, for another five minutes.
Pour over the cream and stock, simmer gently until the liquid is reduced by half, stir in the spinach and parsley, then place in a lightly buttered gratin dish, about 20 cm x 15 cm x 7cm in size, levelling it out with a spatula as you go. Place the gratin dish on a baking tray.
Blitz together the breadcrumbs, butter and cheese in a blender, and sprinkle over the top of the filling. Bake the gratin in a hot oven for about 35-40 minutes, until all golden and bubbling.
Put the almonds on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 5–8 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden brown – start checking on them after 5 minutes as they can scorch quickly. Spread them out on a cold plate to cool completely, then tip into a food processor and pulse them until quite fine but not oily.2
Tear the bread into chunks and soak in cold water to cover for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and add the bread to the almonds in the food processor.
Cut off a 10 cm piece of cucumber and set aside. Peel the rest of the cucumber (use the peel to infuse a jug of water if you like, page 158). Halve the cucumber lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then chop the flesh roughly. Add to the food processor.
Add the garlic, olive oil, 1tablespoon vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt and some pepper. Blend until smooth, adding a splash of cold water to thin a little if you like, but it’s best kept pretty thick.
Transfer the soup to a bowl or jug, cover and refrigerate for several hours to chill thoroughly. When ready to serve, taste the soup and add more salt or vinegar if it needs it. Cut the reserved cucumber into julienne strips.
Divide the soup between chilled bowls. Add a trickle of olive oil and finish with the cucumber julienne and toasted almonds, if using.
Tips and swaps:
Add salad leaves: If you have any slightly tired lettuce, rocket or watercress, you can toss the leaves into the soup before blitzing – simply tear off and discard the worst bits first.
Finish with grapes: Float a handful of seedless green grapes on each portion instead of the toasted almonds.
This week the I♥CC members make any Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe that could be found in a pub. I think a
King Trumpet Burger
is pub food at its best and goes well with a beer. I wanted to use portobello mushrooms for this recipe because finding a puffball is impossible for me. Unfortunately my favourite supermarket offered no portobellos, so I used King Trumpet instead
King Trumpet Burger
Yield: 2 servings
An incredibly satisfying bit of fast food.
1 tbsp oil or lard
4 rashers streaky bacon
4 slices puffball (field mushroom or other), skin removed and cut into slices about 2cm thick, trimmed to roughly the same size as the baps
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 good soft baps
A few salad leaves – dressed, if you like, with a little vinaigrette
Put a frying pan over a medium heat, add the fat, then add the bacon and cook until it is as crisp as you like it. Remove the bacon and keep it warm.
Add the slices of puffball then turn them over immediately, to stop the first side absorbing all the fat, and fry for about 3 minutes, until golden. Flip them over again and fry the other side for the same amount of time. Season the puffball.
Cut open the baps, add two slices of bacon to each, then some of the dressed leaves, then a couple of slices of puffball or mushroom of your choice. Close the baps and serve straight away.
In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, thyme and garlic, and season well. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and put in the tomatoes cut-side down. Fry for five minutes, until the tops of the tomatoes start to caramelise a bit. Remove from the pan and place cut-side up in a roasting tin; spoon any pan juices into the tomatoes. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mix evenly over the top of the tomatoes and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tomatoes are softened and the tops golden.
total time: 1 h preparation time: 15 minutes cooking/baking time: 30 minutes