Warm Lentil Salad with Tofu and Moroccan Spices

Moroccan Spiced Warm Lentil Salad

It’s been a long wet winter in Cornwall and I am craving sunshine. No sign of a break in the weather anytime soon so for now I will have to settle for some warming and cheering Moroccan spices.

Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice mix, its name actually means “head of the shop” meaning that it is made from a selection of the best spices in the shop. It usually, but not always, contains cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, chilli and rose petals. And it is delicious.

Harissa is a hot, Tunisian, chilli paste. I actually had a harissa and rose petal spice mix in the cupboard so I made it into a paste with a little oil but you can buy harissa spice in most supermarkets. If you don’t have any pomegranate molasses you can use a little agave syrup (or honey if you are not a vegan) but this won’t have the same flavour.

I didn’t have enough puy lentils so I topped them up with red lentils but they cook down a bit too much and become mushier than I like for a salad so I really do recommend that you use all puy lentils.

I’ve listed the veg I used in the recipe but use whatever you have in the fridge (I did) because this is a great way to use up odds and ends. If I was cooking this for an occasion, rather than just a Friday night dinner, I would probably just use lots of different coloured peppers and tomatoes.

Ingredients

Serves 2

For the marinated Tofu

1 pack Firm Tofu

2 tbsp Harissa Paste

2 tbsp Pomegrate Molasses

1 tbsp Olive Oil

For the Lentil Salad

200g Puy Lentils

1 tsp Vegetable Bouillon

1 large Carrot

1 Onion

1 Stick Celery

2 cloves Garlic

½ Red Pepper (sliced)

½ Orange Pepper (sliced)

1 Red Chilli (sliced)

A generous handful of Cherry or Small Plum Tomatoes (halved)

A few florets of Broccoli and Cauliflower (cut small)

1 tbsp Ras el Hanout

1 tbsp Sunflower Oil

A handful of Coriander (chopped)

Method

Rinse the puy lentils in plenty of cold water. Place in a pan, cover well with cold water and add the bouillon. Bring to the boil then simmer until just cooked but with a little bite left in them (about 10 mins). Drain and set aside.

Chop the onions, garlic, carrot and celery into small dice. Place in a large, lidded sautee pan with the sunflower oil and cook over a low heat, lid on, until soft.

Stir in the Ras el Hanout and cook for one minute more. Add the peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and chilli, cover and continue to cook until the vegetables are nearly cooked. Add the cooked lentils and tomatoes, stir through, cover and keep warm while you cook the tofu.

Mix the harissa paste, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Slice the tofu and brush each slice with the harissa mix on both sides. Fry in a little hot oil until the harissa mix begins to caramelise.

Pile the lentils onto a plate, add the tofu and sprinkle with coriander.

 

 

 

Guinea Fowl with Puy Lentils

Guinea Fowl with Puy Lentils

I confess this was the first time I had either cooked or eaten guinea fowl. It’s not something you see in the shops every day but my amazing butcher got one in for me. You probably have an amazing butcher near you too – go in and make friends.

If I am honest, if I thought of guinea fowl at all, I thought of it as a game bird but it’s not – it is a domesticated, farmed bird and it is available all year round. And it is delicious.

How can I describe the flavour? You know how everyone describes new food as tasting like chicken? Well this does – only it tastes like the most chickeny chicken you have ever had – like condensed chicken, sort of chicken but more gamey. That’s all I have – try it and tell me what you think.

I made it using a recipe I have used many times before with chicken (and you can of course use chicken if you prefer – simply adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your bird). If I am honest it makes this dish very rich and if I made it again I would probably leave out the cream – it just doesn’t need it.

The other good thing about guinea fowl is that one bird is the ideal size for two people so this dish is perfect for a romantic dinner à deux.

 

Ingredients

1 Guinea Fowl

100g /4 oz Bacon Lardons

1 Carrot

2 Sticks Celery

1 Onion

2 Bay Leaves

1 bunch Tarragon (chopped)

1 tbsp Chopped Parsley

100g / 4 oz Puy Lentils

100ml / 4 fl oz Dry White Wine

225 ml / 8 fl oz Chicken Stock

1 tbsp Olive Oil

A generous Knob of Butter

1 lemon

2 tbsp Double Cream

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4

Wash and drain the lentils – set aside.

Heat a large frying pan and pour in the oil and butter. Season the guinea fowl all over with salt and pepper and place in the frying pan. Gently brown on all sides and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Fry the lardons in the same pan until golden and beginning to crisp. Finely dice the carrot, onion and celery (this is called a mirepoix – just in case you were wondering) and add it to the bacon. Cook for 10 minutes until the veg softens a little. Stir in the lentils, wine, chicken stock, bay leaves and half the tarragon. Bring to the boil then transfer to an oven proof dish (choose one that will look good on the table too).

Place the guinea fowl on top of the veg and lentils and cover with a lid or some tin foil and put in the oven for an hour. Once cooked remove from the oven and lift out the guinea fowl – set aside to rest for five minutes. Meanwhile taste the lentil mixture, adjust the seasoning and stir in a good squeeze of lemon juice, the rest of the tarragon, the parsley and the double cream.

Nestle the bird back into the dish and serve.

 

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