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Lentils with pancetta and pistou

You'll need

200 gm small green lentils 450 ml chicken stock, plus extra for topping up 1 small onion, halved 1 carrot, halved 1 celery stalk, halved 2 garlic cloves 4 thyme sprigs 1 fresh bay leaf 40 gm flat mild pancetta, cut into thick lardons   Pistou 20 gm pine nuts 1 garlic clove 1 cup (firmly packed) basil 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for storing To taste: lemon juice


  • 01
  • Cover lentils with cold water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Strain, return lentils to a clean pan and add enough stock to cover by 2cm. Add vegetables, garlic and herbs, place a round of baking paper directly on the lentils and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender but not falling apart (15-20 minutes; top up with extra stock if necessary). Remove from heat and season to taste. Discard vegetables and herbs and keep warm.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for pistou, toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until golden and fragrant (1-2 minutes), then set aside to cool. Pound pine nuts, garlic and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle to a smooth paste. Add basil a handful at a time, pounding well between each addition, until a fine paste forms. While still pounding, gradually add oil until creamy and combined, season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice and transfer to a container. If you’re not using pistou immediately, pour a thin layer of oil on top to prevent discolouration and refrigerate until required; pistou will keep refrigerated for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • 03
  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add pancetta and fry, stirring occasionally, until fat renders and pancetta begins to turn golden (4-5 minutes), then add lentils and enough cooking liquid to moisten and bring to the boil (same heat). Just before serving, stir in a generous spoonful of pistou, season to taste and serve hot.
This recipe is from the May 2013 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“Lentils are often overlooked,” says chef David Young. “I don’t know why, because they’re bloody delicious. Go Puy-style lentils – they’re tiny dark green gems that retain more of their shape and texture after cooking.”

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

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