Where it all began...
Lentils and Polenta! The first Vegan dish I created myself, entirely from scratch. It's now a staple in our house, but never boring. It's a delicious blend of warm, creamy polenta and mixed lentils with onion, carrot and celery in a full flavoured, rich tomato sauce. This will definitely, quickly become a firm favourite in your repertoire. This recipe makes more than enough to serve three or four, with leftover lentils to freeze for another time if you like. I like to serve it with an olive oil and rosemary bread (cheat's version of course) to mop up the sauce. Bon Appetite!!
1 onion finely chopped
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
2 medium sized carrots finely chopped
1 cup each of green, puy (also known as French style) and red lentils
1 jar of passata
1 can of chopped tomatoes
3 vegetable stock cubes
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
Chopped fresh parsley
1 cup of polenta
3 to 4 cups of water
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Preheat your oven to 180C. Heat a good glug of olive oil in a fry pan and add your chopped onion, celery and carrot and gently fry until tender. Transfer the vegetables to a largish casserole dish with a lid. Add your passata (half fill the empty jar with water, swirl and add this to the dish too), tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, two stock cubes and your green lentils to your veg and tomato mixture and stir through. Place into your oven for 20 minutes or so. After that time, add your puy lentils, stir and return to the oven. If you need more liquid, add a little boiling water. After a further 15 minutes, add your red lentils and return to the oven again for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and give it all a good stir. Return to the oven and let the mixture blib away for say, another 30 minutes and then check to see if the lentils are tender. If they need more cooking time, return to the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes. If they require more liquid, add a little water. If the mixture is a little loose, leave the lid off the dish for the final few minutes. Remove from the oven once you are happy and stir through some chopped parsley, adjust the seasoning and leave to one side while you make the polenta.
To make the polenta, firstly dissolve your final vegetable stock cube into 3 cups of boiling water, and put it on the heat in a large saucepan on a low heat. "Rain" in your cup of polenta, stirring with a whisk all the time. Keep stirring vigorously until the mixture begins to thicken. This will take a few minutes. If you feel that your polenta is too thick, slowly add more water, little by little, whisking well after each addition. Once you are satisfied with the texture of your potenta, add in a good tbsp or two of your butter and the nutritional yeast. Check and adjust your seasoning, if necessary, and you're ready to serve.
Place a good spoonful of the polenta on the plate, add a ladle full of the lentils and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, some more chopped fresh parsley and a grinding of black pepper. This is a delicious, protein packed, hearty dinner dish.