I was determined not to simply steam it all and serve with butter and salt as is traditional in our house (not that it’s not delicious that way, but I really did buy loads – enough to have an experiment). I pondered various tomes, the favourites currently up on my shelf – Veg Everyday, Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook, and then remembered Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi, currently languishing under my bed, and vying for my nightime attentions with Real fast Food by Nigel Slater. I haven’t really cooked much of Ottolenghi’s stuff (actually, only a dip thing a few months ago for a dinner party ‘mezze’ type starter platter thing) and nothing from Plenty since I bought it, although reading it makes me drool, so I was pleased to find his recipe for Green Lentils, Asparagus and Watercress.
It’s a shame the watercress stall wasn’t in evidence at the market today, I had it in mind to buy loads because we all love it, but I had some at home any way.
I can’t find a link to an online version of the recipe, and I did make a few changes because (a) I had coriander rather than parsely, (b) I didn’t have as much watercress as the recipe said, and (c) as I had put cheese on the tomato tart, we didn’t have cheese in the salad. So here’s my version of Ottolenghi’s
Green Lentils, Asparagus and Watercress
Ingredients: 200g puy lentils, 75g watercress, thick stalks removed, 40g fresh coriander, 150ml olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove, peeled, 400g thin asparagus spears, juice of half a lemon
Method: rinse the lentils well, then put in a pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the lentils are just cooked but still firm (not disintegrating). While the lentils are cooking, blend the watercress, coriander, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a food processor with some salt and pepper until smooth.
When the lentils are cooked, drain them well and tip into your serving dish. Pour the watercress dressing over and stir through immediately, while the lentils are still hot. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the asparagus spears for no more than 3 minutes till just tender. Drain and slice the spears in half – or so that the pieces are 5-6 cm long. Add the asparagus spears to the lentils, and gently toss together, stirring in the lemon juice as you go.