I recently had the experience of cooking for a friend who has to avoid a whole load of staple ingredients that I use (and she used to use) all the time. She can’t eat any pulses that have skins. I had never thought about pulses having skins! Apparently red lentils don’t. She can’t eat onions, but can eat spring onions, can’t eat the white part of the leeks, but can eat the green parts. And there are a whole load of other things that she avoids. So, my mission was to keep it simple.
So, I made this red lentil bake and I loved it, so it is definitely one to repeat. It made 6 portions.
200g dried red lentils
600ml water or vegetable stock
green part of 1 large leek
600g of potatoes
A knob of butter, some olive or a dash of milk
Cheddar cheese, grated or nutritional yeast (optional)
3 spring onions including all the green part
1 desert spoon of olive oil (which I will use from my jar of sun-dried tomatoes if there is enough in the jar to still leave the tomatoes covered)
1 tin of tomatoes
Salt and pepper to season
Rinse the dried lentils in some cold water and pick out any debris, like small stones that often find their way to hiding amongst lentils. At least they are easier to find in red lentils!
Bring the lentils to the boil in the water or stock, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and mushy.
Peel chop the potatoes quite small so they cook quickly (keeping the skin for soup, stock or potato skin crisps). Bring them to the boil and then simmer and cook until soft.
Chop the leek leaves into thin rings and wash thoroughly after chopping as mud often hides in between the leaves.
Chop the spring onions. Then stir fry the leek leaves and the spring onions in the olive oil until they are softened.
Drain the lentils and let any excess water drip out over the sink. Then scrape the lentils into an over proof dish – think 6 portions of lasagna size – mine is 25cms by 35cms. Then cover with the leek and spring onion mix. Cover that with the tin of tomatoes.
Mash the cooked potatoes, adding the knob of butter, margarine, milk or oil to get a smooth consistency and seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Then smooth that over the top of the tomato layer then sprinkle with grated cheese or nutritional yeast.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.