Lentils - In Season

Okay, lentils are dried, so they don’t have a specific season of use, but they’re especially relevant this month as pulses are set to be one of the top food trends of 2016 - and not just for their wholesome goodness, but because the UN General Assembly, no less, has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP).

The aim is to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of these annual leguminous crops as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which is to facilitate the implementation of the Year, says that pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a critical part of the general food basket.

Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer; they are also an important source of plant-based protein for animals.

In addition, pulses are leguminous plants that have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment.
For further information through the year check out the IYP website http://iyp2016.org/

As for me, I’ll just eat them as often as possible as usual, because they’re versatile and delicious.


This tasty breakfast, lunch or supper dish is from TOAST by Racquel Pelzel (Phaidon Hardback; €19.95/£14.95/$24.95), a season-by-season cookbook offering dozens of different ideas for little somethings (and some more substantial dishes) that you can rustle up using a wide variety of bread types as the base.

“Lentils are a weekly staple in my house,” says Raquel, “They are inexpensive and packed with protein, fiber, and iron. Here, I use duck bacon (pork bacon works too) to give the meaty lentils an even heartier taste, but you could easily lose the bacon for a vegetarian-friendly meal (or use vegetarian bacon instead). Thin ruffles of cabbage lighten the overall dish—add a poached or fried egg to any leftovers and you have total breakfast bliss.”

Serves 4



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 slices (rashers) bacon (preferably duck bacon) thinly sliced crosswise
4 medium shallots, finely chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 ½ cups thinly sliced green (white) cabbage (about 1/4 of a medium head) 1 1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
3/4 cup (165 g) green French lentils (Puy lentils), rinsed
½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter


Four ¾ inch (2 cm) thick slices country-style bread
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the bread, plus extra for serving
Kosher (coarse) salt, for the bread
2 scallions (spring onions), thinly sliced

1. Make the lentils: In a large, deep skillet (frying pan), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a plate and set aside. Add the shallots and pepper to the skillet and cook until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the cabbage, thyme, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to stick to the pan, 7-8 minutes.

2. Stir in the lentils and wine. Increase the heat to high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all of the wine is evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add 1½ cups (355 ml) water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender, about 50 minutes. Uncover and stir in the butter.

3. Make the toast: Toast the bread according to the instructions on pages 7-8. To serve, cover each piece of toast with lentils. Sprinkle the reserved bacon and scallions on top and drizzle with olive oil.


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