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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Puy lentils with cherries, spinach and blue cheese

This is another recipe adapted from the fantastic Ottolenghi cookbook. I have cooked more from this book than any other cookbook I own.

Lentils, cherries and blue cheese might sound like a bit of an odd combination, but it really works. I first made this dish mainly because I was curious as to how the flavours would work together and had all the ingredients to hand, and I was completely blown away by how yummy it was. Sweet, salty and rich, it would make a lovely starter for a seasonal posh dinner, or a really fabulous lunch.

Serves 2, 4 if serving as a starter

125g puy lentils, or 1 can of ready cooked
2-3 shallots, or half a small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water
1 tsp caster sugar
60g dried cherries (I used dried morello cherries)
50ml red wine vinegar
80g fresh spinach
About 120g blue cheese (it is a strong flavour so just add as much as you fancy. The recipe specifies gorgonzola, but I used blue stilton)
Salt and black pepper

If you need to cook the lentils, wash them and then boil them in a lot of water with a couple of bay leaves for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked but al dente.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the shallots and sauté over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the water, sugar, cherries and vinegar, and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Drain the lentils (either from saucepan or can) and add them to the cherry sauce, stir, and if using ready cooked lentils, warm them up in the sauce. Add the spinach and keep the heat on until it wilts. Taste and season with salt and pepper (not too much salt as the cheese is quite salty).

Serve warm or at room temperature, with a little raw spinach and the blue cheese crumbled over the top.

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