I had too much wine last Saturday night!
It was just that ‘one extra glass’ that did it – it’s such a pain that last ‘one glass’! I blame it for a lot of things like a) that I find myself, the next morning, sluggishly walking around the house humming bad tunes the likes of ‘Easy (like Sunday morning)’ and b) that I am smacked in the face with the one dish I REALLY wanted to serve to our lovely dinner guests the night before but forgot. Damn!
We enjoyed a delicious slow cooked beef dish for main with lots of salads and sides and really, with the amount of food that was on the table, it is no surprise that the one dish I REALLY wanted to serve with the beef was not missed and was instead left on the pantry bench top, to just do its own thing and get better and better with each hour it was left alone.
It was the perfect night – old friends, fire lit, canape’s, bubbles, ‘slow food’ – all that I love. We enjoyed amazing wine with dinner – you see where I am going? – that ‘one extra glass’ is looming! One of our friends is quite the wine buff, often asks in advance what’s on the menu and then brings a ripper bottle to match – needless to say, he has a special place in our hearts! So there you have it, a hugely busy week finished off beautifully with close friends, good food, great wine (albeit ‘one too many glasses’) and the discovery of my side dish that, have I mentioned yet – I REALLY did want to serve.
I know I have talked it up now – possibly way more than it deserves but I always serve this slow beef dish with this lentil salad. The two go together hand in hand – always have and always will for me. It has been known to convert the lentil loather into happy hippy bliss! It is such a simple dish too but it’s all about the flavours and the quality Du Puy lentil.
I have never had the chance to photograph this salad until now. The problem I have is that I tend to lack patience and rather than photograph dishes I have cooked and then want to post on this blog, my greedy stomach takes over or my hungry family are too impatient to wait for the dish to say ‘cheese’ and to pose for the paparazzi and so we instead eat it and I chant “next time”. So, was it a blessing that this lentil salad was not devoured for dinner? It has now had it chance to shine for the camera’s and with a little experimentation, another recipe has come about which I have been enjoying for lunches this week and loving every precious mouthful. As a result, this post has now become a 2 for 1 deal! Here are the recipes for both the salad and how to turn it in to a deliciously healthy and warming soup should you have copious amounts of it left over either a) because you intentionally have made too much or b) because you let your hair down one lovely Saturday evening and ‘doh’, there it is… that elusive “I meant to serve this with dinner” dish! Enjoy!
Warm lentil salad
This can definitely be made ahead of time on the day & kept at room temperature. Gently warm through just before serving. It also reheats well and makes a great lunch. It jazzes up a simply cooked piece of chicken, fish, a great steak or a lovely slow cooked little number.
Du Puy lentils are French green lentils that are beautiful to cook with & eat & they hold their shape particularly well. If you cannot get these, buy any other good quality green lentil.
1 cup of lentils du Puy (pronounced duh pwee), cooked to instructions on the packet & drained
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh sage
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley plus extra to serve
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
20 ml red wine vinegar
Whisk the mustard, olive oil & vinegar together in a small bowl until combined. Combine the vinaigerette in a bowl with the cooked warm lentils, red onion, herbs, salt & pepper. Garnish with extra parsley to serve.
Nourishing lentil, lemon and silverbeet soup
Left over lentil salad (recipe above)
A good glug of olive oil
1 medium red onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of Ras El Hanout spice mix *(see note)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 bowl of left over lentil salad
½ bunch of silverbeet, leaves washed and finely chopped
1 litre of boiling water
Zest of a lemon & lemon wedges to serve
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook for a few minutes until soft and smelling sweet. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the Ras El Hanout and stir. Add the tomato paste and chilli flakes and stir to combine. Add the lentil salad as well as the silverbeet and boiling water. Leave the soup to simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve in bowls garnished with lemon zest and wedges of lemon on the side. Ensure everyone squeezes the lemon juice in to their bowls – this really is essential for the flavour.
*Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice mix which loosely translates to ‘house blend’. In Morocco, a Ras el Hanout can contain up to thirty different spices and many home cooks have their own special recipe which may differ greatly from that of a friends. It is a delicious seasoning for meats and seafoods, tagines, soups an much much more. Many good food stores and deli’s now sell Ras el Hanout.