In the midst of a busy weekend, it was such a pleasure to embrace a bit of quiet time and sit down to a warm bowl of red lentils with my family. Do you have a go-to comfort meal? We have several on rotation, but I find red lentils to be easy to put together and consistently worthy of a sigh of happiness.
My cooking philosophy has been heavily influenced by Tamar Adler’s book An Everlasting Meal. Do you know it? It’s an elegant series of essays that show you how to move beyond following recipes down to a tee. Just put on a pot of salted water to boil, she urges, then figure out the meal. Or maybe use up the bits and pieces in your fridge and top them with a delicious fried egg. Voilà, dinner.
My bowl of lentils was an iteration of a forgiving base recipe. This time I started with onion shallots and garlic fried in good olive oil. Then I added in one cup of red lentils and some chicken stock. I married the saddest shrivelled carrots from the fridge with potatoes that had just started to sprout, and tossed them into the pot in the form of little cubes. Salt, cumin, turmeric and chilli flakes provided more punchy flavour. I kept the pot simmering on the stove, tipping in some water here and there until the lentils were soft the way I like them.
One of the best things about Sunday lentils is how enthusiastically they are received by my toddler, who eats them as joyfully as she does spaghetti bolognese.
What’s a meal that you return to again and again?