WARM LENTIL & ROASTED TOMATO SALAD

I have just made the most delicious winter salad imaginable. I’ve literally just finished eating it, and wanted to share it with you right away. I get a bit tired of regular lettuce salads, particularly in the winter when at lunchtime, I want something a little more hearty – so this is a perfect winter lunch. You can make it a day ahead and take it in a reusable container to work. It also keeps well – for up to 3 days covered, in the fridge.

All the spicy tastes and different creamy textures work so beautifully in this dish, which would also make for a really impressive appetizer – obviously served on small salad plates.

Go ahead and give this a go, as I’m quite convinced you’ll enjoy it as much as I just have!

 

2 cups cherry tomatoes (try to find organic)

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks

2tbsp olive oil

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp sea salt

2 cups green lentils

3 cups of water

1/2 cup good olive oil

1tbsp red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp of chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

1 tsp honey

Salt and Pepper to taste

4tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream

1/4 tsp chiptole paste (I make my past by blasting a can of Chipotle Chilis in Adobo Sauce in my blender. You can find this at the ethnic section in large grocery stores, and once you’ve made your puree, it will keep in an airtight container in your fridge for months).

1 ripe avocado (optional).

 

Serves 4

 

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F

Place the tomatoes and onions on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. It’s best to use your hands here to massage in the oil (great for your cuticles!). Sprinkle with cumin and salt and place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes or until everything is nicely brown and slightly shriveled.

Place the lentils and the water in a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 25 minutes and then drain off any excess water. All them to begin to cool.

Meanwhile whisk up the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, parsley/cilantro,  honey and seasoning.

In a small bowl, mix 1/4 tsp of chipotle paste into your creme fraiche or sour cream.

When the veggies have finished roasting, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.

Spoon the lentils onto a platter and gently mix in the onions. Top with the tomatoes, taking care not to mix them in – as you don’t want everything to become mushy. Dress the salad and then drizzle your Chipotle Cream over the top.

If you want to, add slices of ripe avocado.

SPICY BEAN & ORZO SOUP

Today was a depressingly gray Saturday and my daughter was in a total funk as a result of mommy making her sit at the kitchen table and do more homework than she had in mind before going off for an afternoon of ballet rehearsal. I decided she needed a big burst of warm energy, as she’s probably subsisted on nothing but cheap sugar for the last 12 hours, having just come back from a sleepover, so I pulled out my stockpot and made a big pot of this warming soup – which was a total mood-changer.

The key in this quick-fix soup is the spicy chipotle, which gives it a smokey kick. I always have a couple of cans of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce to hand. I throw a can in the blender and keep it in an old jelly jar in the fridge for weeks – a little goes a long way!

Spicy Bean & Orzo Soup

Serves 4-6 hungry people

2tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 sticks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 carrots, chopped

5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed (or 1tsp dried thyme)

1tsp smoked paprika

1tsp chipotle sauce

1 tsp sea salt & 1tsp ground black pepper

1 32oz box of veggie stock

1 28oz can organic tomatoes

1 15oz can cannellini beans

4 tbsp whole wheat orzo

 

Heat the oil in a large stockpot and sweat the onions, celery and garlic on a medium heat until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).

Add the carrots herbs and seasoning and saute for another minute or so.

Add the stock and the tomatoes. I used whole canned tomatoes and I like to break them up a bit with the wooden spoon – you could also use diced tomatoes.

Add the beans and the orzo and simmer for half-an hour.

Serve with warm crusty bread.