Exactly how it came to be that I found myself in possession of leftover lentils escapes me. Well, I do remember them being cooked to go with something, and that there was an excess, but since becoming the star of a surprisingly good salad, the earlier use for the lentils has been forgotten.
This sort of food amnesia happens to me quite a bit, most often when someone asks me what dishes I make for dinner. I mean, my dinner is created by my own hands, say, six times a week. But if you ask me what I cook, I’ll be able to think of maybe three or four things, tops. Now, I’m pretty sure that I don’t eat the same things every week. There’s no list on a blackboard: Monday – chicken surprise; Tuesday – bangers and mash; Wednesday – tuna mornay … so I must come up with different things to eat all the time. But within a very short passage of time, I just forget what they are.
So anyway, there I was with some leftover lentils, wondering what to do with them, when next thing I knew I had this perfect little salad in front of me. I think I’ll make it the next time I’ve got people coming over for lunch.
What you need:
1 cup Puy lentils
2 cups chicken stock
1 medium carrot
1 medium onion
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
Oil and butter for sautéeing
Approx. 100g Serrano Ham (or substitute with Prosciutto or other dry-cured ham)
2 medium avocados
4 eggs (or enough for one per person)
2 generous handsful of rocket leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
What you do:
Rinse the lentils in plenty of water, discarding any stones or other bits and pieces that shouldn’t be in there, then leave to drain. Cut the carrot and onion into a very fine dice, then sautée with the thyme and bay leaf in a splash of oil and knob of butter over a medium heat, until the vegetables are soft.
Add the stock to a pot, tip in the lentils, cooked vegetables and herbs. Cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked – no longer hard, but not quite soft – about 30 minutes. If all of the stock is absorbed before the lentils are ready, add a bit more water.
Make a vinaigrette to dress the salad by adding some freshly ground salt and pepper – about a good pinch of each – to a small jar with a lid. The rest is not an exact science – the generally followed rule is about one part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Add the vinegar and oil to the jar and give it a good shake.
Heat some oil in a frying pan for the eggs, then slice the avocado, and add with the rocket leaves to a large bowl. Fry the eggs while you dress the avocado and rocket with the vinaigrette.
Spoon the lentils onto serving plates, cover with the avocado and rocket, throw on torn pieces of the Serrano ham, and top each plate with a fried egg.
I’ll try to remember that one next time someone asks me what I cook for dinner.