Dolcelatte lentils with seared cauliflower (or chicken, I guess)

Like a gentler, more subtle Gorgonzola, Dolcelatte is one of those creamy-sharp soft blue cheeses, but with a bit of sweetness that lets it be a flavour enhancer as well as a big main kick.

Still though – lentils with cheese? Yeah, I know, but stay with me on this one. It’s all about the creamy savoury.

Dolcelatte lentils with seared cauliflowerThere are plenty of dairy-backed lentil dishes, often sausage casseroles or general piggy constructions. In fact, there’s a sensational one in Pork and Sons. But I wanted something that would be a big veggie umami fest, with a sharp hit to go through what can otherwise be a bit of a cloying set of flavours.

You could think of it as a kind of cockeyed dal makhani, but then you could do a lot of things.


Puy lentil & broccoli salad with roast garlic dressing

On Tuesday I nipped down to the Tate Modern, and ended up having lunch there. The current show on Kazimir Malevich is fantastic, incidentally, and the accompanying book is a beautiful thing.

The members room (some friends kindly got me a membership for Christmas. Thanks, guys) is a reasonably quiet place to have an only fractionally overpriced lunch with an amazing view over London. In this case, lunch was a genuinely fantastic lentil salad, bursting with garlic and richness. And I forgot to take notes. Bugger.

Lentil & broccoli salad with peppers and garlic

So this isn’t that. It’s a kind of from-memory analog, accounting for the head of broccoli I had left in, that wouldn’t keep much longer. It is also absolutely a keeper – deep and satisfying. This being me, it involves a whole bulb of roast garlic.


Lamb and pistachio meatballs, with red rice koshari

This is another of the more experimental recipes. The lamb meatballs are tried and tested – you can’t go far wrong with lamb, pistachios, and a little sweet spice.The koshari is another matter, and honestly – tasty though it was – I’ve not quite nailed it.

Lamb pistachio meatballs with koshari

Koshari, if you don’t know, (and I didn’t until a friend suggested it on Friday) is kind of what would happen if an onion pilaf set out to annex every other culture’s starches. It’s one of those recipes you read with a mounting sense of horror that the author is not, in fact joking. Speaking its name alone will banish any Atkins dieters that have the energy left to run. It’s semi-recent Egyptian pantry-clearing fodder, and contains two types of pasta, rice lentils, and chickpeas.

I baulked a little.


Lentil and green bean salad with garlic and capers

There’s a great salad near the beginning of Jerusalem that uses green and yellow beans with capers, red peppers, and loads of garlic. This is basically that with a stripped-down dressing and loads of lentils.

Why? Because I wanted something more substantial to go with the lamb and lemon stew, and because lentils are bloody marvellous. Especially puy lentils – the earthy taste and mottled colour is just the best.

Lentil salad with peppers, beans and capers