If you had suggested ten years ago that a lentil dish could win a place on our weekly favourites menu I would have scoffed mightily and asked you to pass the lasagne.
I have a rotating list of meals that I can whack up without actually waking up and these are rotated depending on what’s cheap, what’s in the freezer and which kid asked nicely. Let me think…
Minced Beef: rissoles, meatballs, meatloaf, chilli con carne, lasagne.
Minced Pork: meatballs in broth with noodles, homemade sausages with apple sauce.
Chicken: Roasted or poached into a casserole.
Smoked mackerel with rice and some kind of salsa.
Cod, coley, smoked haddock in a fish pie or milky sauce with rice.
Frozen oven fish, the Friday standby.
Pancetta with fried onions and olives, tomatoes, basil and sweetcorn on salad (summer) or spaghetti (winter) or bulgur wheat (for a change) or quinoa (on a health kick) or rice (Mother Hubbard moment).
Chorizo, as with pancetta.
Pizza : homemade, every second Friday, red onions, black olives. With Coke on birthdays only.
Roast Pork: it’s cheap. Teenage Son hates it and has requested an omelette night instead so we have been giving that a go. I’m not a huge fan of the omelette, They just don’t leave me feeling like I’ve had my dinner. Maybe there’s not enough chewing.
For the most part, that’s what we eat. Frozen peas are added to practically everything. The garden has made a big difference, particularly since we have put an emphasis on growing veggies not always available in the shops; beetroot, turnips, fresh peas, broad beans, chard and kale.
Dear God, I am seriously waffling here. Get to the point. The point is that we have a new dish. Everyone likes it. It’s reasonably healthy. It’s inexpensive. It’s tasty!
A few weeks ago I tried Rachel Allen’s lentil dish. Find it here. She calls it a sweet potato and lentil salad. I have passed by this recipe dozens of times and was never even tempted to give it a go. Here’s how it went:
Week One: kids liked it but vetoed the Feta cheese.
Week Two: No Feta cheese, had it as a side dish with smoked mackerel. Teenage Son termed this a double whammy of yuck. Everyone else still kind of liked it.
Week Three: Mum hits the jackpot: chorizo! It makes everything taste good. They didn’t even object to leeks. Added pesto but it was overkill.
Week Four: threw in some wilted spinach, no-one even noticed (success!). Forgot to take a photo.
So the basic routine is this:
Roast some sweet potato (yam), carrots and/or butternut squash. (leftovers from a roast chicken dinner are grand here).
Fry some chorizo (and maybe a red onion if you like).
Cook some puy lentils. I lit my beloved stove for the first time yesterday and cooked the lentils on top, feeling unbelievably wholesome!
Open a jar of chickpeas (not essential unless you have starving teenagers to fill) Open a jar of pickled beetroot (strangely, these are the most essential ingredient!).
Fire it all together and away you go.
It is unbelievably satisfying.
I’ve been craving walnuts so I made this delicious Torta di Mele with 100g added walnuts. It has lots of apple and only a little olive oil so it’s good; good in every way. It doesn’t need icing or whipped cream or any accompaniment at all other a decent cup of coffee and an equally good book (P.G. Wodehouse at the moment).
Yesterday’s sunrise moved me to near tears and the sunset was almost as lovely. This October is a wonder. I’m clinging on to it and not thinking about what lies ahead. Here is how the day closed: Enough to make you shake your head and wonder, ‘Who made that?’