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.
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.
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.
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!