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Enjoy the lentil things in life

Kevin Dundon, The Dunbrody House’s star chef shares his favourite recipes

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One-Pot Lentil Broth.

One-Pot Lentil Broth.

Baba Ganoush (Aubergine Dip)

Baba Ganoush (Aubergine Dip)

Star chutney

Star chutney

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One-Pot Lentil Broth.

Lentils and aubergines are not exactly the most common ingredients in Irish kitchens. But this week I’ve got two simple and tasty ways to introduce both foods into your diet. First, my lentil broth. Lentils are one of those pulses which can be found dry or in tins. Both version are great, healthy and very nutritious. For this, I am using green lentils which have a better hold for slow cooking. I love this as you can add any spice to suit your taste buds. For me, tomato and a hint of chilli flakes is just enough for a delicious dinner. If you prefer to use lentils which break down into a puree once cooked, use red or split lentils, then blend the broth to create a soup. Next, is my aubergine dip — or baba ganoush. It originates in the Middle East, although some say Egypt. Either way, it makes a brilliant dip. Serve it with crispy homemade tortilla chips and some fresh crunchy vegetables as the perfect starter to share with friends or family. Aubergine is a spongy ingredient and tastes very plain. My best advice is to oven roast them and allow the aubergines colour enough to create flavour. I like to cut them in half and score them, but if you prefer, you can leave them whole and roast them over a kettle barbecue to add a smokiness to the dish. If you have any baba ganoush left over, try it as a delicious spread on bread instead of butter. The garlic flavour will definitely add some oomph to any sandwich. Happy cooking,

Kevin

One-Pot Lentil Broth

Ingredients (serves 4):
■ 2-3 tbsp oil
■ 100g bacon, chopped — optional
■ 2 onions, chopped
■ 2 garlic cloves, chopped
■ 3 carrots, diced
■ 1 bay leaf — optional
■ 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, chopped
■ 500ml vegetable stock
■ 220g green lentils
■ 2 tins chopped tomatoes
■ 2 tbsp tomato puree
■ 3 celery stalks, diced
■ Salt and pepper
■ ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
■ 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method:
1. Over medium heat, drizzle some oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, herbs and bacon, if using, and cook for 2-4 minutes without colouration.
2. Next add the celery, lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, vegetable stock and bay leaf, if using. Season with salt and pepper and chilli flakes.
3. Stir the broth, bring to the boil, cover with a lid and drop the heat to low. Simmer for 35-45 minutes until the lentils are plump.
4. Check the seasoning and the consistency and add more stock if needed.
5. Serve the broth while still warm with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and crusty bread.

Baba Ganoush (Aubergine Dip)

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
■ 2-4 medium aubergines, halved lengthways
■ 6 (4+2) tbsp olive oil
■ Juice of half a lemon
■ 2 garlic cloves, chopped
■ 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
■■
1 tsp tahini paste
■■
Salt and pepper
■ To serve:
■ 6 tortilla wraps
■ 1 cucumber
■ 4 carrots
■ 200g cherry tomatoes


Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
2. Place the halved aubergines on a baking tray. Score the flesh and drizzle with 4 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Bake in the oven for 45-65 minutes, depending on size, until softened. Once roasted, remove from the oven and set aside for 20-25 minutes to cool.
4. In the meantime, drizzle some oil on a second baking tray. Cut the tortilla wraps in 8. Place the pieces on the tray in a single layer and drizzle with extra oil. Season with salt and pepper.Oven bake in batches for 6-7 minutes until just crispy and lightly coloured. Remove from the oven and continue until all the tortilla chips are baked.
5. Once the aubergines are cooled enough, using a spoon, scoop out the pulp and place into a food processor. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and seasoning, then process until smooth and creamy.
6. Transfer into a serving bowl. Using a spoon, create a well in the centre of the dip and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
7. Sprinkle with some paprika and serve with the tortilla chips, carrot and cucumber batons and cherry tomatoes.

TOP TIP: Why I’m wild about chutney with everything from bread to broth

I always have some chutney and relish opened in the fridge and today’s recipes are a great fit to help give a quick lift or serve on the side.

I like to use an Irish small business called Wildabout chutneys based in Wexford. It is run by Fiona and Malcolm Falconer and caught my taste buds a few years back with a nettle pesto. They are now doing a large range of unusual and very tasty chutneys, relishes and jams with fun names such as Celtic Root chutney or Spice of life. Check them out in small artisan supermarket and on their online shop, see wildabout.ie

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