July 5, 2014 by Dewi
To begin, let me apologise for my absence. I’ve not posted anything new for about a month! To be fair, it’s been a busy four weeks full of revision, exams, applications and job interviews! The storm has now passed and this month I’m wading out into the real world, taking the first real step in my legal career having accepted a job offer with a firm back in my beautiful homeland of North Wales. It’s with a slightly heavy heart this week that I bid farewell to my adoptive home of Manchester – I absolutely adore the city. That being said I’m hugely excited to starting work and being nearer to friends and family. Plus you really can’t beat North Wales in the summer!
That’s enough about my real life – let’s get back on track with some food talk. On the agenda this weekend is a spicy lentil salad; a superb Saturday/Sunday vegetarian brunch dish which will banish any hangover when teamed with a strong mug of coffee.
Little marvels. That’s how chef Yotam Ottalenghi describes lentils and I absolutely agree with him. I’ve expressed my adoration for lentils in past posts and they remain one of my favourite ingredients. They are a staple of so much middle eastern and European cuisine. These versatile pulses, however, still seem under appreciated by most in the UK and It’s difficult to see why; lentils are cheap to buy, easy to cook and lend themselves to all manner of flavours, including my new favourite ingredient: harissa paste.
Harissa paste is a North African blend of chillies, roasted peppers, garlic and spices. and, much like lentils, it’s uses are limited only by your imagination. Harissa is fantastic for marinating meat, stirred into a fish stew or brushed onto roasted vegetables like carrots and aubergines. It can also add a layer of smokey warmth to a lentil salad and is utterly delicious with eggs.
Granted, I cheat here a little by using the ready made paste from a jar, but this is a brunch dish; a lazy weekend morning affair. You’re having a laugh if you think I’m going to trade my Sunday morning coffee and newspaper for half an hour roasting peppers and pounding spices in a pestle and mortar. If you have homemade harissa paste to hand then awesome, use it, but – not least for convenience – I can find no reason to be snobby for snobbery’s sake by knocking the jarred stuff from the supermarkets.
- 1 cup/200g cooked green lentils (or 60g dried lentils, boiled in vegetable stock for about 30 minutes)
- 1/4 red onion, very finely sliced
- 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/4 clove garlic, grated
- 1 tsp harissa paste
- Juice from 1/4 of a lime
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- Chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and coriander, but mint would also work here)
- 1 egg
Combine all the ingredients except for the egg and season to taste.
Warm about 1 tbsp of oil in a pan over a medium heat.
When the oil is hot, crack in the egg, season with salt and pepper and fry until the white is set but the yolk is still soft and runny. I like mine done just to to the point where the edges are becoming crispy but the top of the egg is just set.
Place the egg onto some kitchen paper to remove the excess oil before carefully putting it on top of the lentil salad.
Incidentally, I also made a vegan version of this dish by replacing the egg with sliced avocado drizzled with a little more harissa and the end product was delicious!