For Christmas my Mom surprised me with Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Plenty. This book has been talked about a lot, made famous by its mouthwatering vegetarian recipes. Here’s the thing about Ottolenghi, he has an incredible knack for crafting vegetarian dishes, but is not actually a vegetarian himself. Perhaps, though, that’s what makes him so successful. Thumbing through the book, I was blown away by what he could do with greens, grains, and beans. It was nearly impossible to choose just one dish to make last week. I wanted everything, right then and there!
The dish I chose, and for which I’ve shared the recipe below is a great one, but that’s not the main point of this post. A few weeks back I talked about meat- how we buy it, and why we’re eating less of it. Some of you expressed that you’d like to cook more vegetarian meals but struggle with constructing full, protein rich entrées. I definitely struggle with this too, but I really think it’s just a matter of getting more creative, and expanding what you do with certain ingredients. That said, Ottolenghi has done all the work for you in this book. If you’re searching for vegetarian recipes that go well beyond the norm, I urge you- buy this book. And even if you’re not, get it anyway, because the things Ottolenghi does with ingredients are so inspiring, whether you’re cooking with meat or not it deserves a spot on your bookshelf.
I’ll be sharing lots more of his recipes over the next few weeks, so if you’re not completely convinced on the book yet- there’s much more to come!
Lentils with Tomatoes and Feta slightly adapted from Plenty
The original recipe called for Castellucio lentils and gorgonzola cheese. I had feta in my fridge that I needed to use up and was confident it would be a good replacement for the Gorgonzola (it was), and as for the lentils, Castelluccio lentils aren’t the easiest thing to find in your grocery store, so I used Puy which turned out fine. If you’d like to Castelluccio lentils, I recommend trying a specialty foods market or looking online.
- 5 plum tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 T olive oil
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp flaked sea salt (1/2 tsp regular salt)
- 1 1/3 cup dried green lentils
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- black pepper
- 3 T chopped parsley
- 3 T chopped chives
- 4 T chopped dill
- 3 oz feta crumbled
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the tomatoes on the paper skin side down. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. The sprinkle with the dried thyme and salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours until semi-dried. Let cool.
Place the red onion in large bowl. Pour over the red wine vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt. Stir and let rest while you prepare the rest of the dish. This allows the onion to soften a bit.
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well, and while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Next add in the remaining olive oil, garlic, and a some black pepper, and stir gently to combine. Let rest until cool. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if necessary.
To serve, pile the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the feta and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.