If you do not eat your lentils on New Year's Eve in Italy, you cannot expect good fortune in the New Year so, having partaken of a wonderful lunch at Irma's yesterday, I was wondering what light dish I could make with lentils.
Then I remembered that in Jennifer Aldridge's Archers Cookbook there is a recipe for a lentil salad which I had made many times in the UK. Jennifer's recipe uses Puy lentils and adds cumin, cayenne pepper and coriander to the dressing but I used basil and parsley and gave it a squirt from my chilli seasoning spray [of which I am much enamoured]. I used cherry tomatoes instead of peeling and chopping large tomatoes. Here, with a nod to Jennifer, is my Italianised version:
Cook 4 oz red lentils until soft [about 30 mins]. Meanwhile, cook a whole, large aubergine on a foil-lined tray at 200C until the skin is crinkly [takes around the same amount of time]. Drain the lentils and rinse with cold water, then chuck them into a salad bowl. When the aubergine is cool enough to handle, peel it and chop the flesh. Add to the bowl. Now add a chopped onion, 1 or 2 chopped yellow peppers, about 12 halved, cherry tomatoes and a handful of chopped basil and parsley. Mix everything well. Make a dressing by mixing 6 tablesp olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper to taste and a little chilli seasoning. Chill for an hour or two before serving.
"The Archers" is a British radio soap opera and, coincidentally, celebrates its sixtieth anniversary tomorrow, when we are promised an episode that "will shock the nation". [I listen online.] Jennifer Aldridge is everyone's favourite smug snob, but you do have to admire a woman who has continued to put up with husband Brian's infidelities, has taken in his love child, spends most of her life pacifying her horrific daughter Kate and has now become related by marriage to inverted snob Susan Carter. Here's to you, Jennifer!