Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Give it up for Lentils

Insalata di Lenticchie Rosse e Topinambur con Crema di Formaggio in Nidi di Bresaola
Red Lentil + Sun Choke Salad with Cream Cheese in Bresaola Nests

Lentils- delicious, healthy and filling, make for many a wonderful meal at any time and are easy and versatile to use- especially the red ones. Here is another suggestion for a light but satisfying Springtime meal- done in around 25 minutes and pretty as a picture to boot!

The little Bresaola nests were more of an afterthought to be honest- but at the same time are an excellent way to make use of leftover ham or bacon... which can happen to the best of us! Of course you can easily skip these crunchy delights if you are of a vegetarian persuasion- but I must say that they certainly did the trick for me and made this light dish into a full meal... and were a wonderful added extra!

The first thing I did was to turn on my oven and pre-heat it to the top temperature. I took a muffin tray and turned it upside down, then squeezed 3 slices of bresaola down onto each of the cups to form the nest shapes. Into the oven they went for around 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, they were firm enough to remove but rather moist and soggy on the inside, so I turned the tray back over and now set the bresaola back inside the muffin cups and baked for a further 10 or 15 minutes until firm, crispy and dry.

For the lentil salad, I peeled and finely diced the sun choke and boiled it together with the lentils in salted water for 5-6 minutes. After this time, I drained off most of the excess water and stirred in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, added the juice of half a lime, 1 finely chopped Spring onion, a little Tabasco, some coriander and some cinnamon powder. I added a little sesame oil, mixed everything together and then allowed it to rest with the lid on top for a further 10 minutes or so. This way the lentils did not overcook- which otherwise happens all too easily!

The cream cheese, was a simple affair- either fresh, creamy ricotta cheese or low-fat cheese curd will do the trick. I used 2 tablespoons of cheese to 1 teaspoon of pesto, mixed it together thoroughly and hey presto! A wonderful complimentary flavor to both the lentils and the bresaola! The finishing touch here was a little balsamic glaze and for the lentil salad, a nice handful of water cress which I stirred in with a little more sesame oil and a hint more lime juice. Easy, delicious and fun! Hope you enjoy it!

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