Ah, what a wonderful long weekend it's been. Of course, I haven't achieved a fraction of what I'd hoped to, but I got a little bit done around the house, and did a lot of good eating. And the weekend's not over yet, so there's still hope!
I'm trying my hand at furniture refinishing, and having quite a lot of fun with spray paint, safety goggles and sand paper. It's still a work in progress, but if all goes well, I might even post some pics.
Still, a day doesn't feel quite complete if I don't get to stop and spend at least a little bit of time in the kitchen. And yesterday's adventure with lentils was SO DAMN GOOD that I just had to stop & share. This recipe, modified a bit, is another winner from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. I've tried several recipes from that book now and have liked them all (even though several of them are a bit too labor intensive for me), but this one might be my favorite. I especially like this because I cook lentils a lot. They're a staple in my pantry and in my diet, and yet, it's not often that I feel SUPER EXCITED about the ways in which I use them! Although I do have a few stand out recipes, it's often hit-or-miss. That reminds me that my friend Sabine suggested that I compile my favorite lentil recipes, and I may just have to do that soon!
Onward to the recipe. The original recipe calls for using gorgonzola instead of goat cheese, but everyone who ate this thought the goat cheese worked beautifully. It also calls for Castelluccio lentils, which I've never even seen around here, so I used french green lentils. Instead of adding some diced raw garlic to the final mix, I cooked the lentils with a couple of cloves of garlic, which I then removed and diced fine and added to the salad, for a more subtle flavor. And lastly, Yotam's recipe uses a combination of herbs including parsley, chives and dill, but I just used what I had in the house, which was parsley, tarragon and basil. I think you could almost always improvise with your choice of herbs. Take this dish to your next barbecue or potluck and it's guaranteed to be a hit! I think I'm going to make it again very soon.
Lentils with Roasted Tomatoes & Goat Cheese - adapted from Yotam Ottolenghii's Plenty
5 plum tomatoes, or whatever tomatoes you like - I used a combination of cherry tomatoes from our garden, sliced in half, and beefsteak tomatoes, cut into slices.
8 thyme sprigs
Splash of olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. kosher salt, or if you're feeling fancy, you could use smoked Maldon sea salt, like I did
1 1/3 c. french green lentils
2 small cloves garlic, peeled & lightly smashed
3 T. olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
3 - 4 T. fresh herbs - I used parsley, basil and tarragon
3 - 4 T. soft goat cheese
To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven or toaster oven to 275. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, dice or halve or quarter them, and place them skin side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don't worry if you've got larger tomatoes cut into slices and find it hard to place them skin side down, it'll still work out just fine. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt. Place the thyme sprigs on top, and put into the oven to let it work its magic for roughly 1 1/2 hours. Check after 1 hour, as I found mine were nicely roasted already by that point, and the additional half hour wasn't needed. Take out of the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the red onion slices in a medium bowl, pour over the red wine vinegar and sprinkle with the salt and toss. Let the onions marinate while you move onto the lentils.
Bring a pot of water to boil (enough water to amply cover the lentils - 3 to 4 cups should be good), and add the lentils, the garlic and a bit of salt. Lower head and simmer until tender but still a bit firm, about 20 - 25 minutes. Drain well, and remove the garlic and dice it fine. Add it to the bowl of onions.
While the lentils are still warm, add them to the bowl of onions & garlic, and also add the olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and herbs. Stir gently and taste, adjusting seasonings if necessary.
To serve, spread a layer of lentils onto a platter, and scatter some of the tomatoes over, along with dollops of the goat cheese. Add another layer of lentils and do the same thing until all the lentils and tomatoes and goat cheese are happily scattered over the platter. If there are any juices left in the pan from the tomatoes, drizzle over the top, and then be prepared for the entire platter to disappear very, very quickly!