Lentils and Light

I’ve always been a fan of things you can whack into a large pan and walk away from.  Leave to potter and simmer and come together whilst you crack on with one or two of the other things that demand your time.

This stew is one such dish.  It takes about 35-45 minutes to cook and no time at all to prepare.  It sits happily on the stove while you crack on with those emails, feeding the cat, ironing or whatever. I served it last weekend for my film-maker friend, Mike, who kindly came round to give me a photography lesson.  Followed by a slice of plum and pear pie, I suppose it was really a bribe to trek East and patiently explain clever things about light sources and let me try out some better lenses.  But it is also exactly the kind of food I crave on days like these, when it starts to get dark around 4.30 in the afternoon and the heating needs to be whacked up.  In fact, it was the perfect meal before heading off to see the Guy Fawkes fireworks on Blackheath.  

Lentils and sausages are of course very good friends and I for one have always thought of them as a particularly Germanic combo.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course, but I think this recipe is a fresher, spicier take than the wurst you too might be familiar with.

Sausage and Lentil Stew with Fennel and Paprika
Serves 3 hungry people

You will need:

6 Sausages (preferably of the stronger, Italian variety- I used fennel and chili)
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp smoky paprika
300g green lentils (not puy please)
700ml passata
700ml chicken stock
A handful of parsley
Black pepper.


1.  Slice the onions and fry them in a large stewing pot over a medium high heat.  They should begin to caramelise ever so slightly.

2.  Meanwhile, brown the sausages all over in a separate frying.

3. Add the minced garlic, fennel seeds and paprika to your pot and stir for about a minute.

4.  Add the sausages, passata and stock.  Stir together.

5.  Add the lentils and cook over a low, simmering heat until the sauce has reduced slightly and the lentils are cooked through.  They should absorb a fair bit of the liquid.  This should take about 40 minutes.

6.  Plate up into large bowls, scatter with chopped parsley and plenty of black pepper.  Serve with chunky bread.


Since Spring seems to have evaded us this year, I thought it might be a good idea to bring Spring to the plate instead.   This is a light, crunchy and tangy salad of beetroot, baby gem, lentils and goats cheese with added freshness from a dill vinaigrette.    
Dill is one of my favourite herbs, mostly because it reminds me so much of home.   In Sweden, dill is scattered through the freshest new potatoes laced with butter and salt- I ask you, is there anything better?  It is also frequently used in pickles and added to traditional fish dishes.  You can even get crisps flavoured with dill and chives.  This dressing celebrates this underrated herb and is surprisingly versatile.  For the salad, I used the precooked, vacuum-packed variety of beetroot for convenience, but you could of course use the fresh kind, boiled or, even better, roasted.  
Dill Vinaigrette
You will need:
A large handful dill
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
1 tsp of sugar. 


1.  The easiest way to make this dressing is to toss all the ingredients into a food processor and wizz together.  But if you don’t have one, start by chopping the dill very finely.

2.  Mix with vinegar, salt, sugar and then finally add the oil.  Drizzle over leaves, beetroot, lentils and crumbled goats cheese.  Alternatively, use to dress green beans and peas and serve with fish. 

Some recent packed lunches

Healthy pick me ups for long work days.

Feeling Swedish with cheese and cucumber on rye and a frothy coffee

And Spicy with a cumin and lemon- packed lentil soup

An easy dinner tip no. 1

I went to visit my friend Fliss the other evening for a catchup and to see her new abode in Clapham, which was very nice.

She made me an amazingly tasty and simple salmon and lentil combo for dinner. It involved the following:

Boil up some lentils in a pan, then add a tablespoon of curry paste and some crushed garlic, mix well and leave to simmer. Add your salmon fillets on top and put a lid on. Leave for 10 min or so for it to cook through and for the curry to permeate the salmon. Remove the salmon and stir through some spinach. Serve.

Easy as pie… Actually, stay tuned for pie.