Tonight I made my first lentil dish from “Plenty,” which is surprising because I love lentils! It’s been a bit slow going with my cooking lately – I’ve been getting busier in the evenings. I’ve been slowing down a little because someone special will be moving to Juneau soon and I can’t wait to share the whole cooking and eating experience with him 🙂
I would also like to note, before we begin, that Chef was on The Splendid Table a few weeks ago talking about adapting his new cookbook, “Nopi,” for the home chef. Doing this project, I especially enjoyed listening to him discussing how he created his cookbooks, including “Plenty,” with the home chef in mind. Chef Ottolenghi said: “The books that I’ve published in the past were mostly conceived and thought through in a domestic kitchen, a home kitchen. I was often thinking, ‘How do home cooks cook? What would they want to cook?’ That has always been the guiding force behind recipes that I’ve published.” I can attest to the fact that I, as a home cook, definitely want to cook the recipes in “Plenty”; I have enjoyed making them and eating them immensely. I have also enjoyed the challenge of seeing just whether these recipes can really be cooked well in a home kitchen.
So, tonight I went with Green Lentils, Asparagus, and Watercress (pg. 220). I decided to go with the green lentil dish first (of the 6 in the book) because I wasn’t sure I could find puy lentils (needed for 2 or 3), castelluccio lentils (needed for 1 or 2), or red lentils (needed for 1 and a close second to finding green). A hurdle for another day!
I was slightly worried that I would not be able to find watercress, but I did! I was very happy to learn this, as I recently discovered while in Thailand that I love fried morning glory (which is very similar to watercress); I’m hoping I can attempt frying that soon! Most everything else was easy to find or I already had it. I went with pecorino cheese over Manchego because of the price (Chef said could use either); I do love Manchego cheese, though! I also did not shell out the dough for walnut oil, as it was used only as a garnish.
Overall, the recipe was pretty simple and took less time than I had anticipated. While the lentils were cooking, I pulsed the dressing in the blender (easy)…
…washed, blanched, and cut the asparagus (easy), and cut some cheese pieces (easy).
Then threw everything in a bowl (save some of the watercress and the cheese for plating), mixed and served! It turned out great. Again, I think the garlic here is really strong, as I only used 1 clove, yet had a lingering taste left in my mouth. The cheese complimented the dish magnificently! Like Chef said, the flavorful cheese was “ideal with the earthy lentils” and did not outdo the asparagus at all. I give this 5 stars. It was really yummy and super simple. I can’t wait for a repeat at tomorrow’s dinner time.
Both pics are mine – mixing in the bowl (L) and the finished plate (R) – there is no picture in the book.