It has been quite some time since I last posted a recipe. My excuse is that I was busy changing my life as I have explained in my previous post. This put a spanner in my normal working life and throughout the time it took to move and reorganise myself, I was only able to concentrate on work that had a deadline! It is all over now and I have finally resettled in a new home where I can cook again. So, I thought I would share with you one of my favourite vegetarian recipes which has the added advantage of being very simple and quick to make. And the beautiful thing about this Turkish dish which belongs to the zeytinyagli (cooked in olive oil) family of dishes is that you don’t need to serve anything with it, not even a salad. It has a perfect balance of pulses, dairy, vegetables and even herbs to make a perfect ‘one pot’ lunch or supper. And if your mise en place is good, you will be able to prepare it in under an hour. I like to have it warm, but you can also serve it hot or at room temperature. In Turkey, they use regular carrots and their own brown or green lentils. I like to use baby carrots which I buy in my local farmers market in Bute Street and Umbrian lentils from Castellucio di Norcia. The lentils retain a nice bite as well as their shape, and of course they taste delicious, not to mention that they are also beautiful!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
500 g baby carrots, or normal carrots, sliced into thin disks
100 g green or brown lentils, soaked for 30 minutes
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
250 g Greek style yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
fresh dill if you have it, otherwise a sprinkling of dried herbs such as mint or oregano
Put the onions and olive oil in a deep sauté pan and place over a medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelised and golden. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the carrots and stir for a minute or so. Take off the heat.
Drain and rinse the lentils. Put in a saucepan. Add ½ litre water and bring to the boil over a medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lentils and their cooking water to the carrots and onion. Season with the Aleppo pepper and salt to taste. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pan, raise the heat slightly and boil gently for 2-3 minutes until the excess liquid is completely evaporated. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let cool if you are going to serve it war or at room temperature.
Mix the yoghurt with the crushed garlic. Add salt to taste. Then transfer the carrots and lentils to a shallow serving dish. Spread the yoghurt over the top, but without covering it completely. Scatter a few sprigs of fresh dill over the yoghurt or sprinkle a little dried mint or oregano. Serve with good bread.