03 March 2011

puy lentils, bacon & vegetable salad

A few days ago, we popped into this small new deli down the road and bought some ready-made salad to quell our rumbly tummies.  They had this cold lentil salad made with puy lentils which I thought was surprisingly flavoursome.  Just so happens that 'S' had not so long ago, requested that I make lentil curry - a dish that he really likes.  So I thought instead of a curry, I'll make my own puy lentil salad.

Now I knew that since it was going to be for dinner, I wanted it to be a warm salad.  I also wanted to have meat in it - I mean lentils are already healthy for you, and there was also going to be vegetables.  So I had to add some meat to it.  Why?  Well...
  1. So that the dish had a nice meaty flavour to it,
  2. So that we wouldn't feel hungry after just a couple of hours after dinner, and raid the kitchen for something utterly unsuitable and unhealthy just before bedtime (like sweet banana muffins, chocolate biscuits, bowl of coco pops, toast smothered thick with Nutella...), and
  3. So that I'm not responsible for cooking a super healthy dish - I like to live a little dangerously!

But if you're a vegetarian, or feel the need to eat more healthily or just plain chicken, then just cut out the meat and bulk the dish up with more vegetables.

Before I go into the ingredients I used, how I cooked it, yadi yadi yadi ya...I have to first tell you about my experience buying the bleedin puy lentils.  We went to 2 supermarkets and 1 organic shop before we found some.  For some reason no one was carrying raw puy lentils.  Who would have thought it was going to be THAT difficult!

We found some canned ones, but they were canned in brine or salted water.  I wanted to cook them from scratch (they don't take long to cook anyway).  When we got to the organic store, I thought we must be able to get some here!  We scoured the entire place and found none.  So I thought puy lentils are going to have to wait until another day.  But on our way out I decided to stop and ask the lady behind the till when she thought some were coming in.  So glad I did that.  She took me to this shelf that had ONE packet of French lentils left.  See I didn't know that puy lentils were also French lentils - duh!  I don't think she saw a customer more happy over a bag of lentils.

So here's what I did.

Puy Lentils, Bacon, Vegetables & Feta

Puy lentils (250g was enough for dinner for 3 people)
1 onion, chopped
Garlic, minced
Bacon (I used bacon ends - they're economical and quite meaty)
Button mushrooms, quartered
A big bunch of spinach, chop off roots and also stalk if its dry
1/2 cup water
Feta, crumbled

  1. Boil the lentils in plenty of water until cooked through.  Drain and put aside.
  2. Fry onion in a tiny bit of olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Use a pan that is NOT non-stick if possible.
  3. Add bacon and turn up heat to medium-hot.  Continue to cook until the fat on the bacon starts to melt and the bacon is browned, but not crispy.  Halfway through frying the bacon, add the garlic.  I add it at this point so that the garlic doesn't burn.
  4. Add mushrooms and toss so that mushrooms are well coated with the bacon fat.  Continue to fry until mushrooms are cooked.  The fat and some small bits of bacon will start to stick and burn at the bottom of the pan.  Don't worry about this.
  5. Add pepper to taste.  I don't add any salt to the dish as the bacon I used is quite salty.
  6. Once mushrooms are cooked, add water to deglaze the pan - once you've added the water to the hot pan, it'll start to bubble.  Quickly using your spatula and scrap the burnt fat and bits at the bottom of the pan, mixing it around.  You'll notice that it'll all come off quite easily to form a nice gravy.
  7. Add the lentils into the pan, mix and cook until lentils are heated through.
  8. Throw in the spinach and mix it through until wilted.
  9. Top each bowl of lentils with crumbled feta just before serving.
  10. You can also drizzle some good quality extra virgin olive oil before serving.



Thanks for leaving me your comments - I love getting them! And I promise I'll reply to all of them. Cheers! :-) x.