I am quite fond of lentils, despite their social challenges. I am a longtime lover of Lentils, Monastery Style, which is not only the page on which my well-worn copy of Diet for a Small Planet falls opens but also currently describes my life. But I digress.
Right. Lentils. Love ‘em. Also love this food guy Yoam Ottolenghi. I have a few too many of this Israeli-born food wizard’s cookbooks. Leafing through them on a bored Sunday, I spied, in Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, a recipe for Puy Lentils with Sour Cherries, Bacon and Gorgonzola.
Here’s a link to the full recipe, via Googlebooks so I’m hoping it’s not a copyright problem. (Here, for karma sake, is a link to Ottolenghi’s own site with a whole bunch of additional recipes.)
I’ve tried this dish twice and I have tweaked and simplified. As usual, I was too lazy and my loathing of red-wine vinegar too great to follow this recipe too faithfully. I declined the Gorgonzola both times because, although I love it, the dish had enough salt from the bacon. And I didn’t think I’d like it all sticky with the cheese. But I’ll try it again and maybe report back.
Here’s my adapted recipe, (with thanks to Yoatav Ottolenghi):
11th ave Puy Lentils with Dried Cherries and Bacon
1. In a medium saucepan, cover 2/3 cup rinsed Puy lentils and with three times their height in water, plus bay leaf or two. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes or desired firm/softness (don’t let them get too mushy)
2. Chop up 8 slices of bacon and once sizzling in a good sized pan, toss in 2 or 3 chopped shallots. Saute, medium heat, until the bacon is as crisp as you like. Remove from heat and add 1 T of red wine vinegar* and 1/2 cup chopped dried sour cherries. (I find the Costco Kirkland dried cherries too sweet. Dried cranberries might do in a pinch. Raisins, if you’ve no standards at all.) Continue over low heat for just enough to warm/soften the dried whatever-you’re-using).
3. Your lentils are almost done. Drain well and add to the sauce.
4. Now there’s the business of adding the greens. I fancy whatever’s on sale at the PA (Fort St., please!) and called “baby” so I don’t have to chop or “tear” (seriously, you foodies have too much time on your hands): Look for a bag of baby arugula, baby kale, regular old pathetic adult spinach. If you like your greens limp, you can close this blog post right now. If you like your greens with a little spring in the baby stems, dump your bag of greens in a biggist salad bowl and place the hot mess of lentils and bacon and cherries on top. Toss with whatever vigour you feel. Unless you’re listening to Pharrell Williams’ Happy. In which case, calm the fuck down.
Plate this — that’s foodie for “arrange on the plate with incredible fussiness to create the impression you just casually tossed it off — and then eat. Some kind of big red wine would do nicely. Or a can of Coke.
* While I thought it was because I was too cheap to shell out for good/expensive red wine vinegar, I have instead discovered that red wine vinegar is satan’s condiment and the original recipe’s requirement for 4.5 tablespoons overwhelms the nutty goodness of this salad.