“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.”
- 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
- 20 gm pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup (firmly packed) basil
- 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for storing
- 1Cover 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.
- 2Meanwhile, 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.
- 3Heat 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 .