Monday, 17 February 2014

Roasted Carrots on a Bed of Lentils

When I was first thinking about this dish, I got quite excited about it, and then when I was making it, I became convinced that it was all a big mistake, and it would be blah and uninteresting. Fortunately, my first thoughts were the right ones - this turned out to be surprisingly good. The spices were just right, and the dressing pulled it all together. The onions and garlic, too.

I used a non-fat yogurt, but you (probably) don't have to, in which case I recommend a better one. (Why yes, completely non-fat dairy products DO leave me very unimpressed.)

You could serve this with fairly plain chicken or fish, but it is perfectly respectable as a vegetarian main dish, needing only a green vegetable or salad to make it a complete meal.

4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes prep time

Roast the Carrots & Cook the Lentils:
500 grams (1 pound) carrots
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown or green lentils
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Peel the carrots, trim them, and cut them into halves or quarters lengthwise. Grind the spices, and mix them, including the teaspoon of salt.  Toss them with the oil in a small roasting pan, in which they can sit in a single layer, then sprinkle them with 1/2 of the spice mixture - save the other half to go into the lentils later. Roast them for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft and slightly browned in spots.

Put the lentils, water and remaining salt into a rice cooker, and cook the lentils. Alternatively, put them in a pot and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender and most of the water is absorbed.

Make the Dressing:
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise, light is fine
1/4 teaspoon salt
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix all of the above in a small bowl, and refrigerate until wanted.

Finish the Dish:
2 stalks celery
OR 1 1/2 cups grated peeled celeriac
2 medium onions
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Wash, trim and dice the celery, or peel and grate the celeriac. Peel and chop the onions. Peel and mince the garlic.

When the lentils and carrots are about 5 minutes away from being cooked, heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the celery or celeriac and the onions until soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic and mix through, and cook for another minute. Add the (drained) lentils and mix them in well. Sprinkle with the reserved spice mixture and the balsamic vinegar, and mix that in well. Continue cooking and mixing for about 5 more minutes, until everything is well amalgamated.

Spread the lentils onto a serving platter, and top with the roasted carrots. Serve with the dressing; put a little on the top then pass the rest so people can add more as they like.

Last year at this time I made Lamb Stiffado

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