When I heard that people in the Blue Zones tend to eat a lot of beans, increased my legume intake. I often batch cook a different one every week – chickpeas, lentils, black beans, etc, – and use them in salads and other dishes throughout the week.
Sometimes I leave them plain, sometimes I jazz them up. For these lentils I make a chili oil infused with fennel, and it makes everything they touch turn to spicy, umami gold. Think of them as a dressing/spicy condiment that also adds bulk and makes your meal satisfying.
In these pictures I served them with roast aubergine, rocket, mint, parsley and yoghurt swirled with harissa.
I recommend soaking your lentils before you cook them – your gut will thank you.
250g puy lentils
1/2 medium white onion
1 bay leaf
50ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Korean Chili Flakes or Aleppo Pepper
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp red wine vinegar
sugar and salt, to taste
Soak the lentils in water for at least six hours, up to overnight and ideally change the soaking water halfway through.
Drain and rinse the lentils, and place in a pot of cold water with the onion and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until tender. Drain and run under cold running water to halt the cooking process.
Place the olive oil in a saucepan with the garlic, chili and fennel. Place over a low heat and cook until the garlic is beginning to turn golden. Remove from the heat before it reaches your desired shade of gold as it will continue to sizzle in the residual heat.
Once cool, pour over the lentils and add the red wine vinegar, season with salt and perhaps a pinch of sugar until they are just right for you.
These keep well in the fridge for up to a week.