Vegetarians and Ottolenghi

I like meat.  There’s nothing I like better than a steak, barbecued to perfection.  However, of my three sisters, two are either vegetarian or have strong vegetarian tendencies.  We all grew up on the same diet, primarily meat, potatoes and veg, but they just turned out a little different…and I still love them in spite of it.  (Somewhere in the Mozambique heat Lizzie is shaking a fist at me..until she finds out I can send her lentils..Amanda…you still love me though, right???)

Ottolenghi is the name of a restaurant in London.  They have a beautiful window display with salads and cakes stacked high.  I am addicted to their cakes and their hot chocolate.  When I was unemployed I would walk to the Ottolenghi on Upper Street, have a cake and hot chocolate and observe the British people.  It was an entertaining pass time and filled me with quite a bit of joy.

Now you ask, what do my vegetarian sisters and Ottolenghi possibly have in common?  Mr. Yotam Ottolenghi, the chef and patron of Ottolenghi, writes a weekly column in the Guardian (kind of like the Toronto Star but a lot more cerebral) with vegetarian recipes.  I, having very little in the way of actual vegetarian cooking skills (what, you can’t make pastry with lard when making pie for your vegetarian sister??) have taken, as a personal challenge, Mr. Yotam Ottolenghi’s weekly column recipe.  This week?  Lentils (never cooked them), radicchio (that’s chicory in British), and Walnuts (grew those in my backyard growing up), with manuku honey. Yikes.

Let me say I have truly never cooked lentils and have no idea what manuku honey is.  However, I have regular honey in the cupboard and am not afraid to use it.  Let’s begin.

the gathering of ingredients...

lentils, water and some bay leaves

toasty, spicy walnuty goodness...remember to stir them

combining the lentils with the dressing ingredients

wilty radicchio leaves

finished product - it's dark in London now, our clocks have changed...picture taking is more complicated

Lentils, radicchio, and walnuts with honey – based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe in the guardian

note: The Brits really like to cook with weights instead of cup measurements.  I’ve provided the rough equivalents in cups

1 1/4 c (200g) puy lentils – David Lebovitz writes a lovely article about puy lentils.
2 bay leaves
1/4 c (100g) manuka honey
¼ tsp flaked chilli
½ tsp ground turmeric
Salt and black pepper
About 1 tsp water
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
90ml olive oil
1 cup (100g) walnuts
½ medium-size radicchio
as you like it (60g) pecorino fiore sardo, or other mature ewe’s or goat’s cheese
as you like it (20g) each roughly chopped basil, dill and parsley (I loathe dill and so left it out – still tasted good)

Preheat your oven to 300F/150C

In a medium saucepan, cover your lentils with water and add the bay leaves.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine 1/8c of honey, the chilli, turmeric, a couple of shakes of salt and a couple of pepper grinder grinds, stirring until a thick paste forms.  You can add a bit of water to thin it out a bit.  Add the walnuts, stirring to coat.  Put parchment paper (or silicone mat) on a baking sheet (saves your sanity when dish washing later) and add the walnuts.  Spread them out so they’ll toast easily.  Toss them in the oven for ~15 minutes.  Be sure to stir them around a bit after about 7-8 minutes.

Whisk together the red-wine vinegar, half the olive oil, and the rest of the honey.  Whisk it all together until incorporated.  Add the now drained lentils and toss the bay leaves.

Add the remaining oil to a frying pan and turn on full heat.  Add the radicchio leaves with a bit of salt until slightly wilty.

Chop up the basil and parsley.  Combine the wilty radicchio, the chopped herbs, the lentils and the walnuts.  Over the whole mess shave some parmesan or crumble some goat cheese (whatever you’ve got on hand also works)

Serve the whole lot warm or at room temperature.  I plan on having the leftovers out of the fridge tomorrow, but I’m a bit of a rebel.

As an aside:

Mr 416expat and I went to Broadway market again this Saturday.  It’s turning into a fairly regular Saturday morning date.  As all good dates involve food (at least ours do) this week we tried the roast pork sandwiches.  Literally, every week they roast a pig and serve it up with applesauce, rocket (arugula in Canada) on a soft roll.  Yum

pork sandwiches on the canal tow-path

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2 thoughts on “Vegetarians and Ottolenghi

    • I would totally add some pancetta, the spicy Italian kind (you can get it at the meat counter at Loblaws). It was good on its own, but bacon makes it better! I miss you too pj!

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