A day after Black Friday and with only a month to go till Christmas, now could be a time I flip to lentils. Lentils are, for me, the culinary equal of the calm earlier than the storm, a easy, clear and excellent second earlier than the social gathering kicks off.
For higher and for worse, the following 4 weeks are a marathon that all of us overlook correctly to coach for. Diaries are full of plans and wallets are emptied, with little heed paid to how a lot of a toll it’s all taking. It’s irrational, in fact, however one way or the other laborious to withstand the logic that sees the necessity for extra stilton sparking the necessity for extra wine, which sparks the necessity for extra nuts (after which but extra stilton, wine and nuts).
We’re all fairly defenceless within the face of this annual onslaught, however what we are able to do is put together. And cooking a batch of lentil soup is my manner of battening down the hatches; doubling the portions and freezing 1/2 makes me really feel prepared for the storm forward. Then, when my inner SOS name goes up in a few weeks’ time – a necessity for the precise reverse of that stilton-wine-nuts combo – I’ll know that the answer is inside fast and simple attain. Today’s lentil and aubergine stew and the fritters are comforting and frugal antidotes to the month-long spending and social spree that started yesterday.
In Italy, oddly sufficient, little black beluga lentils are historically eaten when the social gathering is in full swing, on New Year’s Day. These maintain their form when cooked and don’t collapse, which is why they’re mentioned to seem like tiny cash and are historically eaten to herald a affluent yr forward. So a lot for my affiliation of lentils with frugality, then: seems they’re nearly as good a option to see out the social gathering as to guard us from it.
Curried lentil and coconut soup
Serve this with lime wedges for a welcome citrus kick. Serves 4.
2 tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1 tbsp medium curry powder
¼ tsp chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4cm piece contemporary ginger, peeled and finely chopped
150g pink lentils, rinsed and drained
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
25g coriander stalks minimize into 2cm items, plus 5g picked leaves, to garnish
Salt and freshly floor black pepper
400g tin coconut milk
Lime wedges, to serve
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-high flame, then fry the onion for eight minutes, stirring usually, till comfortable and caramelised. Add the curry powder, chilli flakes, garlic and ginger, and fry for 2 minutes extra, stirring constantly. Add the lentils, stir by means of for a minute, then add the tomatoes, coriander stalks, 600ml chilly water, a teaspoon of salt and a really beneficiant grind of pepper, and go away to warmth by means of.
Pour the coconut milk right into a bowl and gently whisk till clean and creamy. Set apart 4 tablespoons – you’ll use this when serving – then tip the remaining coconut milk into the soup pot. Bring the combination as much as a boil, flip down the warmth to medium and go away to simmer gently for 25 minutes, till the lentils are comfortable however nonetheless maintain their form.
Divide the soup between 4 warmed bowls, drizzle over the remaining coconut milk, scatter the coriander leaves on prime and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.
Puy lentil and aubergine stew
The substances listed here are very acquainted, however the result’s a bit magic and surprising – slightly like Christmas, in reality. Serve as it’s, for a lightweight meal, or bulk it up by spooning on prime of slices of grilled or toasted sourdough. It’s at its finest served heat, however can also be superb at room temperature. Serves 4.
4 tbsp olive oil, plus slightly further for serving
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 medium pink onion, peeled and finely diced
4 tsp picked oregano leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
2 small aubergines (about 420g in complete), minimize into 5cm x 2cm chunks
200g cherry tomatoes
180g puy lentils
500ml vegetable inventory
80ml dry white wine
100g creme fraiche
1 tsp urfa chilli flakes (or ½ tsp common chilli flakes)
Heat 1/2 the oil in a big, high-sided saute pan on a medium-high flame. Add the garlic, onion, 1/2 the oregano and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and fry for eight minutes, stirring usually, till comfortable and golden, then tip right into a small bowl.
Put the aubergines and cherry tomatoes in a separate bowl and season with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and loads of pepper. On a medium-high flame, warmth the 2 remaining tablespoons of oil in the identical pan (don’t hassle wiping it clear) and, as soon as it’s very popular, fry the aubergines and tomatoes for 10 minutes, turning them usually, till the aubergine is comfortable and golden-brown and the tomatoes are starting to blacken.
Return the garlic and onion combination to the pan, then add the lentils, inventory, wine, 1/2 a litre of chilly water and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, flip down the warmth to medium and go away to simmer gently for about 40 minutes, till the lentils are comfortable however nonetheless retain a chew (after this time, there’ll nonetheless be some liquid on the backside of the pan, however that’s effective).
Serve the stew heat topped with a spoonful of creme fraiche, a drizzle of oil, a sprinkling of the urfa chilli and the remaining chopped oregano leaves.
Sweet potato and puy lentil croquettes
While making these, you’ll have to freeze the combo a few instances in order that the croquettes are simpler to form and coat. It’s a little bit of an effort, admittedly, however effectively value it for the stunning gentle texture of the top outcomes. Serves six as a foremost course.
2 massive candy potatoes (800g)
170g puy lentils
1 massive onion, peeled and minimize into 2cm-wide wedges
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
¼ tsp floor cinnamon
½ tsp smoked paprika
30g parsley, roughly chopped
10g mint leaves, roughly shredded
Salt and pepper
200g feta, crumbled into 1-2cm items
3 eggs, gently crushed
80g plain flour
150g panko breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil, for frying
2 lemons, minimize into wedges, for serving
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gasoline mark 6. Put the candy potatoes on an oven tray and bake for about an hour, till cooked by means of and comfortable inside. Once the candy potatoes are cool sufficient to deal with, peel off and discard the skins, then put the flesh in a big bowl (you need to find yourself with about 530g). Mash roughly, then go away to chill.
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil, then add the lentils, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Turn down the warmth to medium and simmer for 30 minutes, till the lentils are cooked and beginning to disintegrate. Drain, discard the bay leaves, then tip the lentils, onion and garlic into the candy potato mash. Add the cinnamon, paprika, parsley, mint, a teaspoon of salt and a very good grind of pepper, combine effectively, then gently stir within the feta so it’s integrated however stays in chunks.
Divide the combination into 12 balls, put these on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper, then freeze for 30 minutes, in order that they stiffen up. Shape every ball right into a spherical, 7cm-wide x 2cm-thick patty, then return to the freezer for at the least 2 hours, to agency up (at this stage, you can even cowl the croquettes and preserve them within the freezer for as much as 2 weeks).
Put the eggs in a single bowl, the flour in one other and the breadcrumbs in a 3rd. Take the patties from the freezer and one by one roll them first within the flour, then the egg and eventually within the breadcrumbs, to coat, then go away at room temperature for an hour, till partially defrosted. It’s important they defrost, or they received’t cook dinner by means of earlier than the crust begins to burn (when you don’t need to fry them at this level, retailer them within the fridge for as much as 24 hours, in order that they’re able to fry if you end up).
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gasoline mark 4. Fill a medium frying pan with sufficient sunflower oil to return 2.5cm up the edges. Put the pan on a medium-high flame and go away to warmth up for 5 minutes, till the oil is scorching. Turn down the warmth to medium, then fry the croquettes in batches for about 4 minutes, turning them as soon as, till golden brown on either side. Transfer to an oven tray and bake for eight to 10 minutes, to cook dinner by means of. Serve scorching with the lemon wedges.
• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.
Yotam Ottolenghi from theguardian.com