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Nigella's Lentils Braised in Red Wine--"Side Dish Superstar!"

Posted Nov 25 2009 12:00am
Lentils, lentils, lentils! I love lentils and I have been eyeing Nigella's Lentils Braised in Red Wine from " " for ages. This week our I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "Side Dish Superstars" and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally give this dish a try. As a side dish this recipe doesn't conjure up Thanksgiving thoughts and it really isn't that photogenic--believe me I tried. (I thought playing around with the picture backgrounds might help a bit!) But what this recipe does have is flavor--lots of veggies, garlic, red wine and bacon, and a great hearty texture that makes it the perfect accompaniment to sausages, chicken, or in my case with some simple roasted salmon.


Nigella says: "I've used Beluga lentils here, partly because I love the name, but mostly because I am very keen on these tiny, black spheres which when slicked with oil, look like caviar. But do use the paler grey-green Italian Castelluccio lentils if you can get them, or indeed the slate-blue Puy lentils from France."

Lentils Braised in Red Wine
"Feast", Nigella Lawson
(Serves 8)

1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
1 stick of celery
1 large onion
4 oz bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/3 cups Beluga lentils
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/4 cups red wine
3 cups water
olive oil
fresh parsley, optional

Peel the carrot and garlic cloves and chop finely with the celery, onion and bacon, or process everything until finely chopped.


Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the chopped or processed vegetables and bacon. Cook them over a gentle heat until soft, which will take up to about 10 minutes.


Tip the lentils into the pan and stir them around to get slicked with the oil and then add the bay leaves and Dijon mustard. Pour in the red wine and the water, or enough water so that the lentils are just covered in liquid. Bring to a boil and cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until just tender. One of the good things about the Beluga lentils is they tend not to turn mushy, so there's less problem about overcooking.


When the lentils are cooked, check the seasoning and add salt if necessary and dress with a little olive oil as you serve them. If you are cooking the lentils in advance, simply take them off the heat, and put the pan in a cool place somewhere (say on a chilly stainless-steel surface or near a window out of the sun). Warm through the next day by adding a little water and olive oil and keeping them, covered, on a low heat until warm. Then, by all means, take the lid off and stir through with a wooden spatula to help them get hot throughout.

Transfer to a serving dish, tasting for seasoning and dressing with a little olive oil as you do so. If you want some freshly chopped parsley on top, scatter as desired. I rather like, however, their uninterrupted muddy blackness.


Notes/Results: I used the beluga lentils that I had in my pantry for this recipe. I like the firmer texture they have--it makes them fun to eat. I am basically pretty lazy and loved the ease of throwing chunks of veggies into the food processor with the pieces of bacon and garlic and then just whirring it all up instead of doing a lot of fine chopping. With the bacon and the wine, the lentils smell so good while they are cooking it is hard to wait until they are done to try them. They were well-seasoned and worked perfectly with the roasted wild salmon and some kale salad. This is a great recipe--I would make it again for sure and play around with different types of lentils.

You can see what "Side Dish Superstars" the other IHCC participants chose to make and see what they thought of them by following their links on the IHCC website here.

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