Saturday, 28 May 2011

Dinner: 27/05

Whilst lolling about in a friends kitchen recently, I sauntered past an open cookbook. It was one of Jamie Oliver's, open on the page below; and on the page were scallops, asparagus and lentils- displayed together with a glossy full page photo.

I adore lentils. I love how comforting they are, and so rich in flavour, even when just boiled with pepper. I could only imagine how this would be intensified by the pancetta and asparagus.
I also love scallops, but couldn't imagine such a delicate meat combined with an otherwise heavy and robust combination of ingredients.

I waited for two long weeks before the opportunity to try it presented itself, and when it did, it entirely lived up to my expectations- warming and hearty. The bay and sage leaves really make this recipe, so if you try it (and I suggest you do) please don't leave them out!


■10 1/2 Puy lentils
■1 bay leaf (dried ok)
■2 cloves of garlic
■1 potato, peeled
■1 tomato
■a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
■herb or red wine vinegar
■good-quality extra virgin olive oil
■sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
■5 heaped tbsp creme fraiche or thick, natural plain yogurt (full fat yogurt worked great)
■juice of 1 lemon
■2 handfuls of asparagus
■12 slices of pancetta or bacon (I vote for pancetta!)
■olive oil
■12 large or 16 small scallops, shelled and trimmed (large worked better for me)
■24 sage leaves


In a saucepan, cover the lentils with water and, to give them great flavor, add the bay leaf, garlic cloves, potato and tomato. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20-25 minutes (topping up with water if necessary) until the lentils are tender but holding their shape (i.e. not mushy). Drain off 90% of the water, discard the bay leaf, tomato skin and garlic skin and mash the potato, tomato and garlic into the lentils with a fork. Add the parsley and around 2 tbsp of vinegar and 4 tbsp of olive oil. Mix into the lentils and season carefully to taste.

Season the creme fraiche or yogurt with salt, pepper and just enough lemon juice to give it a twang – the juice of 1 lemon will probably be enough.

Trim the asparagus to remove fibrous ends. Drizzle a little olive oil into a pan, and fry the pancetta or bacon until crisp and golden brown. Remove and place into a separate platter. Add asparagus into the ‘pancetta pan’ along with seasoned scallops and cook over a high heat until the scallops are golden on both sides. Remove these to the platter too. Finally drizzle int a little more olive oil and lay in your sage leaves. Fry on both sides for 40 seconds or so until crisp and remove to the platter.

Plate with lentils at the bottom, topped with scallops, pancetta, asparagus, sage and a dollop of yogurt.

Try it and enjoy!

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