Of Celery and Stock and Lentils…

Celery Gratin Prep

Last week I made a celery gratin and a lentil salad side dish to go with it. I also cooked some tiny chorizo sausages that Brian had bought as they needed using up, so it wasn’t in the end a vegetarian meal, but it was meant to be. Good intentions eh?

For the celery gratin I followed the method in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book on Vegetable cooking. I do have lots of cook books and after writing the last post I realise I am maybe not using them properly, so by writing the post it prompted me to open my books!

You bake the celery covered in foil with aromatics and a little butter.  In this case, I used bay leaf and thyme, both from my garden. Once baked and tender, I followed the recipe to make a sauce from the liquid exuded from the celery and a little cream and sprinkled the top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated hard cheese, such as parmesan and then put it back under the grill to bake and go an inviting golden crispy colour.  I found it a little bland so if I was going to make it again I would maybe add some other vegetables into the mix, but it was good to do something I wouldn’t normally do and see how it came out.

Uncooked Le Puy Lentils

I am on much more familiar ground with cooking lentils. One of my favourites, and I suspect that of many other people too, are the Le Puy lentils which hold their shape when they are cooked and have a wonderful earthy nutty flavour.

Home made vegetable stock

I boiled the lentils briefly first, before covering them in home made vegetable stock, the recycled bay leaf, (I have a whole shrub of it in the garden but I was feeling lazy)  parsley stalks and a couple of cloves of garlic. For the vegetable stock I used the leaf and off cuts from the celery dish, some ageing carrots, parsley and an onion.

Cooking Lentils

Once the lentils had cooked, I drained them and dressed them while warm with a little balsamic vinegar and oil and then added some cubes of yellow beetroot, cooked the day before, some feta cheese, some little tomatoes, spring (salad) onions and some basil and salad leaves.

Together with another bowl of salad leaves and some pita bread popped in the toaster direct from the freezer this was a happy meal which we shared with our lovely neighbour last week.

These sorts of dishes are really adaptable to using up small quantities of salad veggies and bits of cheese that you need to use up. They are colourful, a healthy mix of food types, and they store well in the fridge once mixed, good for lunch boxes too!

Le Puy Lentil Salad

20 thoughts on “Of Celery and Stock and Lentils…

  1. heidiannie

    I love anything with veg and lentils. This looks perfect!
    Celery is one of my favorite cooking vegetables- I ran out of it last week- didn’t have a car to go to the market and was feeling badly anyway- so I tried to cook without it.
    Yuck- nothing turned out the way I wanted it.
    And little sausages go so very well with lentils- I would have gone with them,too ( especially since they needed to be cooked up).

  2. Marmaduke Scarlet

    Lentils have become a big staple in my diet – especially since I discovered that they are quite forgiving, if not better the next day. Thanks for this post, as it is a reminder to me that I need to buy some more lentils! Oh and sausages. I love lentils with bangers!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Lentils and bangers sounds excellent. You are right they are forgiving and absorb flavours beautifully.

  3. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    For some reason, we never eat lentils except in a soup or a curry! I’ll have to try it your way, because everyone really loves them. I should try and do more with celery, but it’s not my favourite veg, although we do grow a little of it. Lovely, healthy eating, Jo! xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Try looking for this type as they are firmer and don’t go mushy. I think celery is one of those love-hate veg and I wonder if it grows better in a cool damp climate, the best celery is blanched by being earthed up in deep dark fenland soil, almost a different veg in terms of taste. Some celery tastes almost soapy.

  4. hotlyspiced

    I love these two vegetarian meals (I can overlook the chorizo). It’s lovely how you made everything by resourcefully looking at what you had in your fridge and growing in your backyard. I’d like to try the celery gratin, like you, it’s not something I’ve tried before xx

  5. Ann

    I love lentils of all kinds. Dhal is one of my favourite comfort foods. I’ve never seen baby chorizo here – must see if I can track some down.
    I used to hate celery as a child and am still not too keen on it raw but love it cooked.
    My veggie shop sells individual sticks which is very useful – they sell single spring onions too.

  6. Jan

    Your food looks delicious and very share-able – especially with some home made bread, yum. I wonder if the celery would pare well with some lemon zest and lemon thyme – or maybe blue cheese in the gratin – and a nice glass of white wine – I’m warming to my theme now:)

    1. Joanna Post author

      The layered lemon flavours sound like an excellent idea, thanks Jan, blue cheese too. Gorgonzola ? I think we should definitely explore making the gratin crusty bit more interesting somehow, maybe even toasted nuts?

  7. drfugawe

    Still on your leftover project, huh! We too like lentils and your idea sounds very nice – think I’ll check out my fridge and see what we can add – thanks. For some reason, we’ve been more successful than ever at emptying the fridge of leftovers – but I know we have a parsnip, couple of carrots, and a few nice young leeks from the garden – as well as some ‘red celery’, which is a seasoning herb here – stalks are puny but it has tons of flavor. That should work.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Absolutely! thought I should try writing a bit about what we eat as our main meal. Cakes and sweets are more exciting and look pretty in photos, primed as we are to thrill to cascades of sugar and butter, but I don’t live on cake and we eat huge amounts of vegetables, so I thought I would sneak them onto the blog. Red celery is one I don’t know. You can dress up the Le Puy lentils any which way you like. As for leeks, they are one of my favourites – we have only grown them once but I love them!

      1. drfugawe

        Your gardening environment -and mine- are wet and cool enough for good leek growing – you should sneak them in among your flowers and such – they blend beautifully. Only concern is disturbing other nearby plants when you extract them! They like to grow deep. Red celery is a cousin to the stuff in grocery stores, but it much easier to grow – it has a more intense flavor and I use it like parsley rather than munching on its stalks. Last one I had lived for 4 years, although it’s supposed to be a biennial.

        I made your lentil salad last night – however, as I was mindlessly putting the oil and vinegar into the still warm lentils, I also put in the feta cheese cubes! They quickly disappeared into the mix – but the final taste was marvelous. Now that it’s nice and cold, I’m going to put more feta in – how bad can that be?

        1. Joanna Post author

          I have to rethink my little garden a bit this year, but I have grown garlic before tucked in between the plants so I could grow leeks too, you are quite right! I haven’t sown any seeds yet, I am thinking about it….

          The feta cheese is a bit delicate isn’t it? In Greece they nearly always serve it in slabs or slices on top of the ubiquitous tomato and cucumber with black olives salad and you break it up as you go. I think though that having extra can’t hurt one bit :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thankyou! I remember hating braised celery at school, but it was watery and stringy and soggy, this way you bake the tender parts, use the outer parts for your stock, and drain it and replace the liquid with a richer creamy sauce to make it more interesting, or I think that is the theory. I am not one hundred per cent convinced I would make it again, but it could be improved on.

  8. Promenade Claire

    Love my puy lentils too – bene playing around with leeks and puy lentils, have yet to get the balance right, but I’m happy eating the results :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Sounds good, I have some leeks in the fridge that a relative gave us the other day, might try that :)

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