Feeling a bit washed out in January? Or stacks of energy to try something new? The dish I cooked from this month’s recommended book (see here for details and why I chose that book for this month) was a Lentil and Tomato Bake.
I know I said I would cook something Simple & Tasty from Miss Reeve’s Recipe books but this one was so simple and turned out to be so tasty that it seemed a shame to waste it on a different theme.
Here is a copy of the recipe taken from the book:
And here is how I made it/adapted it:
1. Lay out all your ingredients first so you have everything to hand. Get your tin (see below). Put your oven on (see below.)
(8oz lentils, small onion, bayleaf and cloves, 2 dessert spoons finely chopped parsley, 14 oz tin of tomatoes or 1/2 lb fresh and 1/2 pint water, 2 grated medium carrots, large pinch mace, pinch salt and 1.5 oz vegetable margarine.)
I adapted it to add 1/2 lb fresh tomatoes and 1 pint water as, as it started to boil, the mixture seemed quite thick and I feared the bottom of the pan would burn so I added another half pint – it just meant it took longer to cook.
2, And you will need a buttered/lined tin. It says loaf tin in the recipe so I used one of those but I think that if you are happy with a shaped tin/oven container that is not too shallow that should be fine. The aim is to crisp the outside but to keep the inside moist you see so you choose a shape that allows for that.
3. Anyway, wash the lentils, add to pan with carrots, tomatoes, water (if using the fresh tomato and water option), onion and bring to boil. Turn down low, put on tight fitting lid and leave for 25 minutes. This is where I added more water. I suspect that because I used a lid with a small hole in it, the moisture evaporated, hence the worry about it burning as the moisture did not stay in. So – if it says tight fitting lid in a recipe, it means it… for a good reason. You then have to remove the onion and add the other bits and pieces and stir it well. Anyway, I let it bubble away for 35 minutes as I had more water than the recipe suggested.
I studded the cloves into the onion:
4. I meanwhile had buttered a 1 lb loaf tin, did NOT dot the top with vegetable margarine (I only use butter and avoid all spreadable or vegetable type spreads – keep it simple, wholesome and use butter).
5. It said to bake it for 30 minutes at 375degs Faherenheit or Gas Mark 5. Neither of which I have! So I converted it to centigrade using the best book in the world….
If you don’t have this book or some similar book, use the internet to do the conversion for you! In centigrade terms, it comes to 190C. Remember if you have a fan assisted, a little less than that. You know your own oven.
6. Put the ingredients into your tin and then put the tin into the oven. Which you have already had on for a while so it has reached temperature.
7. I took it out after 30 minutes as I had let it bubble away for a little longer earlier so much of the extra moisture that I had added had gone by then.
8. I left it to cool. I always find that turning something out of a pan when it is hot is just too much hassle and it turns into a real faff. Leaving it to cool means it shrinks a bit too so it comes out almost on its own without the usual shaking and sticking knives around the edge!
How did it taste? Actually – really nice! Quite spicey/herby (the mace gave it something different I think which added to the mix) and really quite tomatoey. It was very filling. It had a nice texture (not the usual gloop that you sometimes find in veggie dishes…). And it looked colourful too. Just what you need on a gloomy January day.
It was simple (yes, even for me it was simple. Once it is in the oven, you can do all sorts of other things). And very tasty.