Thursday, July 09, 2009

Lentil and Piquillo Pepper Salad

Tuesday a friend from work who is currently on maternity leave was planning to come up for lunch. Because of the vast amount of stuff required to transport a sprog from the wilds of Essex to the terrors of Barbican, and also because it's a bad idea to take babies to pubs at lunch time or any time, we usually make something to have in the boardroom where we can all sit around and the offspring can gurgle to his hearts content. Though it has to be said last time they visited there was a meeting going on and the offspring screamed unrelievedly in the way that only babies can. Good as gold once lunch was served. But the offspring is now teething - have terrors at the tears that must be provoking - so lunch was postponed at the last minute. Only I had already started boiling eggs to make a nicoise. So I had 4 boiled eggs in need of a plan and it wasn't even 8 am.

I found a recipe on the Brindisa site for a lentil salad that included a garnish of boiled eggs and had tuna and piquillo peppers mixed in and I really liked the sound of it. And it would use a couple of the eggs. Piquillo peppers are one of the revelations of Borough. They are grown in Navarra, and have their own “DenominaciĆ³n de Origen” (D.O. Pimientos del Piquillo de Lodosa). These small red peppers are charred over wood charcoal / old vines, then peeled by hand, marinated in olive oil with herbs, and eventually eaten either alone or in a salad or stuffed. They are silky and sweet and like no other pepper I have ever eaten. They seriously enhance any meal that they are part of. Their sweetness here contrasted beautifully with the earthiness of the lentils.

Lentil & Piquillo Pepper Salad

200g green lentils or other favourite ones
1 small onion, peeld and cut into eighths
1 carrot, diced
1 small leek, sliced into thin rings
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 eggs
100 g piquillo peppers strips
1 Ortiz bonito in olive oil 112g tin
1 red onion finely sliced
3 tbs Forum of cabernet sauvignon vinegar
4 tbs olive oil
Handful fresh herbs ( parsley, chervil and mint )
Salt and pepper

Heat 2 tbspns olive oil in a heavy pan then fry the onion, carrot, leek and garlic for five minutes till they just start to soften. Add the lentils and coat with the oil. Cover the lentils in plenty of water and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add about a tablespoon of salt and continue simmering until tender (approx 20 minutes). Drain.

Cook the eggs for 6 minutes in boiling water. Drain, cool, peel and quarter.

In a salad bowl mix the piquillo peppers, lentils, red onion and the tuna, and season.

Mix the oil and the vinegar, add them to the salad, and toss thoroughly.

Finish with the fresh herbs and the boiled egg.

Butter a little crusty bread and dinner is served!

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