Lentil Tagine

Some warming North African spicing for those indoor kind of lunchtimes when the sun is without its hat. This is a favourite in the autumn with butternut or coquina squash in season, when such days are more frequent, but the below is a year rounder. Spring leeks and round courgettes can be subbed out for a large red onion and your common courgettes, and carrot and beetroot are also very happy amongst the stewing lentils. The spinach here can be spring greens, peppery rocket or any seasonal cabbage or kale. If your mint pots are not rampant, then a generous dollop of hummus or tahini-spiked with lime will do the trick. Or all three as we enjoyed here! Serve on couscous, bulgur (cracked wheat), brown rice or really any grainy favourite to suit your mood, cupboards and dosha. Basmati rice, by the by, is tri-doshic, and good for all doshas.

Ingredients

For the tagine:
1 ½ tbsp of good, cold pressed rapeseeds oil
3 small young leeks / 1 large one / 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
2 small round courgettes / 1 large common one, roughly cubed
2 spilling handfuls of red lentils
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp of paprika
2 tsp of coriander
½ a freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra for dressing
1 tbsp of sun dried tomato paste
500ml of homemade vegetable stock / organic vegetable bouillon
A sieve full of baby spinach leaves
Extra virgin olive oil to dress
Sumac to dress
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the mint pesto:
A handful of fresh mint
1 clove of garlic
Half a lime
1 tbsp of toasted almonds
Sea salt

Method

  • 1 Heat your rapeseed oil in a saucepan, and add your cumin seeds when good and hot
  • 2 When the cumin starts to give off its aroma, add your leeks and stir in the oil until softened
  • 3 Add your courgettes, paprika, coriander and nutmeg and stir for a minute before throwing in your tomato paste
  • 4 Combine for a minute and pour in your stock, tumble in your red lentils with a couple of generous pinches of sea salt and a good grind of black pepper
  • 5 Turn the heat right down and leave to bubble for an hour or so with the pan lid half on or askew. This mimics a tagine by allowing some of the steam to escape and some to tumble back into the pot. Alternatively use a tagine.
    While your tagine cooks you can prepare your pesto and grains and have a cup of tea; the beauty of a quickly started, slow cooked one-pot
  • 6 For the pesto combine all your ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste
  • 7 When your tagine is thickened, add your spinach and allow to wilt for a couple of minutes, taste and adjust seasoning
  • 8 Serve on your grains with a good drizzle of mint pesto, a sprinkling of toasted almonds, a touch of fresh olive oil, a sprinkling of sumac and a grating each of fresh nutmeg and black pepper. An additional dollop of hummus or tahini will do no harm whatsoever