In an effort to cut down the fast food and get ourselves in healthy shape for all the spring shredding, summer skating and surf holidaying we've got planned for the warmer half of the year, we've decided to pay more attention to what we eat - at least part times. And since we're also trying to decrease our footprint on Mother Earth, we've decided to do this with as much seasonal ingredients as possible, to ensure our food is not only nourishing for ourselves but also not harming any other beings in the process. And to make sure we don't die from the mushrooms we picked up during our latest stroll, we're seeking professional advise from the queen of seasonal eating, Miss Gemma Taylor from well-seasoned.co.uk
150g Puy lentils, rinsed
2 whole cloves of garlic, lightly bruised
500ml vegetable stock
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
Small sprig of mint, leaves finely chopped
Very small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled & coarsely grated
4 small beetroot, peeled & coarsely grated
For the sweet lemon dressing:
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp caster sugar
Place the lentils, stock, whole cloves of garlic and dried spices into a pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are cooked, you may need to add a little more stock or hot water. Leave them to cool before adding the chopped mint and coriander and season to taste.
To make the dressing whisk the sugar and mustard together in a small bowl, then add the lemon juice followed by the oil little at a time as the dressing emulsifies. Or put it all in a jam jar and give it a good shake!
Mix the grated carrot and beetroot with the lemon dressing then layer up with the lentils, adding more fresh herbs or seasoning to taste. This salad will keep for a few days in the fridge but the dressing is best added just before eating. Crumble over some feta cheese or stuff into warm pittas for lunch, I also ate it as a side salad with a wild mushroom & ricotta cheese bake - yum!
20cm Tart/Quiche Case
For the shortcrust pastry:
150g plain flour
75g butter, cut into small cubes
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
200g young spinach
200g Compté cheese
2 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg
Handful of pine nuts
To make the pastry sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips until no large lumps remain. Add the very cold water one tablespoon at a time, at first using a knife to mix then bringing it together into a ball with your hands. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. To make using a food processor pulse the flour, salt and butter until it has the consistency of bread crumbs, then add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together into a ball.
Once chilled roll out the pastry onto a floured surface and use to line a 20cm tart dish. Whisk the eggs for the filling in a bowl, and using a pastry brush and a little of the egg mixture brush the base and sides. Prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork and place into the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry starts to turn golden brown.
Wash and roughly chop the spinach, place in a small pan and on a low heat gently wilt the leaves. Leave to cool a little then squeeze out any excess liquid from the leaves using your hands.
Grate the cheese and add to the egg mixture along with the crème fraiche, nutmeg, mustard and season well. Scatter the spinach over the pastry, sprinkle with pine nuts and pour over the egg mix evenly. Cook the tart for 30-40 minutes until golden on top.
Can be eaten hot or cold and will keep for a day in the fridge once cooked.