“Sausages & Lentils with Herb Relish” from “From the Oven to the Table”

I was stacking the deck by choosing to make this recipe. Tim loves lentils. We all love pork products. I knew it was going to be a winner even before I had bought the ingredients.

Once again, there’s a genius move, and this time it’s to cook the lentils in the oven. Usually when I make lentils it’s a bit of a faff with all the stirring on the hob, whereas this one you bang them in the oven (along with some stock) and then you can forget about them. That truly is my style of cooking.

The family had one note for me, however. I got Cumberland Sausages from our most excellent butcher, Dring’s (shoutout to the best butchers in London!) but they always have an amazing array, including monthly specials. Tim and Nicholas thought this would be better with Italian sausages, which is what I’ll get the next time.

Yet another winner from Diana Henry.

“Sausages & Lentils with Herb Relish” from “From the Oven to the Table”

“Lentils with Sausage and Pecorino” from “A Year of Good Eating”

IMG_8092Maureen: We’re having sausages for dinner!

Andrew (16) and Nicholas (12): Yeah!

Maureen: With lentils!

Andrew and Nicholas: Boo!

Tim: Well, I’m happy about it.

Maureen: I know you are. I am too. I’m a fan of lentils.

Tim: Really? I don’t think that was always the case.

Maureen: Maybe not, but I like them now. What do you think?

Andrew: I like the sausages. I don’t like the lentils.

Nicholas: Ditto. And I think the green stuff on top [Editor’s Note: A type of rocket pesto], makes it even worse.

Tim: You guys need to be more adventurous. Lentils are good, and good for you. This is good.

Maureen: Maybe it’s for the best that I didn’t make the tradition New Year Good Luck Lentils on New Year’s Day.

Tim: Yes, perhaps.

If the rest of your family does like lentils, I recommend you try this. It’s a great midweek recipe: easy and fast. Click through this paragraph to see the original recipe in the Guardian.

“Lentils with Sausage and Pecorino” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Mejadra” from “Jerusalem”


Disaster! I forgot to take a picture of this! Sorry, loyal readers. Suffice it to say, it’s not that photogenic a dish anyway, but it is very tasty.

Maureen: Ottolenghi calls this the ultimate comfort food. Do you agree?

Andrew (14): What’s it called?

Maureen: To be honest, I have no earthly idea how to pronounce it. But it’s spelled m-e-j-a-d-r-a. We could just call it the lentil-rice-fried onion dish.

NIcholas (11): Hmm. Interesting.

Maureen: Good interesting or bad interesting?

Nicholas: I think it’s good interesting, but I’m not 100 percent sure.

Maureen: I think it’s delicious, and given this is the third or fourth time we’ve had it, I think we can call it a success.

Tim: Was it difficult to make?

Maureen: To be honest, Kirstin and Anna don’t call him “Faff-Olonghi” for nothing. This was definitely a bit of a faff, which you don’t really figure out until you’re halfway through making it. I had to fry the onions in batches, which took way longer than I thought it would, in addition to making the lentils and the rice.

Tim: Yes. I remember that was the case the last time I made it.

Maureen: Despite that, though, this is delicious and a good thing for Meat Free Monday. I also know from experience that it’s excellent leftover, too. Another win from Jerusalem.

To make this yourself, find the recipe on the Guardian website by clicking through this sentence.

“Mejadra” from “Jerusalem”

“Italian Sausages with Braised Lentils” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

CBAMSausagesOr, in Italian: Salsicce e Lenticchie

Maureen: I made this one especially for Dad.

Andrew (14): Why Dad?

Maureen: Because Dad LOVES lentils. He is its number one fan.

Nicholas (10): I can’t say I agree with him.

Tim: Why don’t you agree with me?

Nicholas: Don’t you remember that time we had lentils on New Year’s Day?

Tim: Yes. We try to do that every year. It’s supposed to bring us good luck for the year.

Nicholas: Yes, well, I didn’t like them then, and I don’t like them now.

Maureen: But then you’ll NEVER have good luck for the year!

Nicholas: I don’t care. I don’t like them. Never have, never will.

Maureen: OK. How about everybody else?

Andrew: Meh. I like the sausages. I like the lentils, but I don’t love them.

Tim: I love it all, but especially the lentils.

Maureen: Which is exactly why this is dinner tonight.

“Italian Sausages with Braised Lentils” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Burrata with Lentils & Basil Oil” from “Polpo”

Maureen: Another Meat Free Monday special.

Andrew (13): I’m sorry, but I have to say this: It could be presented better.

Maureen: Can you see me rolling my eyes? Are you catching that from across the table? And what, dear sir, is the problem?

Andrew: It just looks like a lump of things.

Maureen: Frankly, I think it looks good. Do you see how I artfully displayed the basil leaves? Maybe you should eat it, rather than just critiquing on appearance.


Andrew: I’ve actually tried it. It’s OK. But it could be better.

Nicholas (9) (Taking a spoonful): Nope. I don’t like it. But I’ve never liked lentils anyway.

Maureen (Turning to Tim): Resident Lentil Lover, what do you say?

Tim: I like it. But I’d be interested to see what it’s like with burrata rather than mozzarella.

Maureen: Yes. He says that we should definitely seek out burrata. But the problem was there was none to be found anywhere in the neighbourhood this afternoon. If we’re going to have this again, I would need to engage in some forward planning to get the right cheese. But this time, we’ll have to make do with mozzarella.

Tim: It’s still good, though. The mustard dressing is nice.

Maureen: Yes, I like it. But I told you beforehand that the boys wouldn’t like this, and I was right.

Nicholas: I’m not so sure that Meat Free Monday is a good idea.

Maureen: Too bad. I’m sorry you don’t like this, but we’re going to continue with Meat Free Monday. It’s better for us, and for the planet. We’ll have pasta or risotto next week for Meat Free Monday, I promise. Then I think you would like it better.

“Burrata with Lentils & Basil Oil” from “Polpo”

“Chicken Tikka, Lentil, Spinach & Naan Salad” from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

Time taken: 27 minutes

Anna: Words cannot express how little I want to eat this. I feel like I’ve just fought a war with every pan and ingredient in the kitchen, and lost.

Ernie: Wow, this looks incredible. Do you eat like this every night?

Peter: Luckily, no.

Anna: Can I just point out that someone clearly didn’t proof read this book. Jamie says to ‘halve the chilli’. That’s it. Halve it. So I did. And put it in the frying pan. Sceptically. And five minutes later I had to pull the thing out of the frying pan to chop it up because really, that’s what you are supposed to do. Even though he DOESN’T SAY SO IN THE RECIPE. And. And. He calls for a small frying pan. What he means is a medium frying pan. You can’t get a whole packet of lentils in a small frying pan with spring onions and half a chilli and a squashed tomato. So I had to transfer everything halfway through cooking. And part of that bloody tomato went on the floor and my cashmere cardigan when I squashed it. What’s wrong with chopping eh Jamie?

Peter: Please excuse her. She’s having a rant.

Ernie: Well I think it tastes delicious. It is really different. It’s spicy and sweet. Very different.

Anna: I’m glad you like it Dad. But I’m never cooking it again.

“Chicken Tikka, Lentil, Spinach & Naan Salad” from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

“Lightening Lentil Soup” from “Food”

Anna: As the name suggests, this is described as a very quick soup to make.

Peter: And was it?

Anna: Well I managed to rustle it up in the last 10 minutes of Louis’s nap time so yes, I’d say this is a fair descriptor. I’m not sure I’m overly thrilled with it though.

Peter: I think it’s nice. It’s not as worthy as some lentil soups can be. It has a nice sweetness to it.

Anna: I just don’t think it’s filling enough. You expect lentil soup to be filling. The minestrone was a much more satisfying bowl of soup. I expect it’s because there isn’t enough lentils. One tin for a recipe that serves 4 doesn’t seem enough to me.

Peter: So does speed triumph over satisfaction?

Anna: In soup, as generally in life, no.

“Lightening Lentil Soup” from “Food”

“Lentil and Feta Salad” from “Food”

If you’d like to try this salad yourself, Google Books has reproduced it here.

Maureen: Something for you, Tim. A lentil salad! You love lentils.

Tim: I do.

Maureen: There’s something for me in this too. Feta cheese! Hooray. This wouldn’t be good for vegans, though. What do you think?

Tim: I thought this was good, but I’d like this dish more hot than cold.

Maureen: I know what you mean. The recipe says that this is best served at room temperature, but I disagree. I think it would be much better with lentils hot and straight out of the pan.

Tim: I don’t think this really works at room temperature, I have to say.

Maureen: Agreed. This is good, but would be even better warm. Room temperature doesn’t really work, unfortunately.

“Lentil and Feta Salad” from “Food”

“Lentil Salad Three Ways” from “Virgin to Veteran”

Anna: Mr Stern offers 3 options for this recipe. I chose the one with smoked salmon and bacon as it sounded delicious.

Peter: Cold lentils could taste a lot worse than this.

Anna: Lentils are served cold all the time!

Peter: I haven’t had them before. But these are good.

Anna: Puy lentils. You’ve got to love them.

Peter: I wouldn’t have thought about having bacon and smoked salmon together.

Anna: Did it make it too salty for you?

Peter: No, I like it salty. I could have eaten a bit more… being a salad it’s virtually calorie free surely?

Anna: Well I did up the quantities of salmon and bacon slightly otherwise you may have thought we were just having a starter for dinner.  Unfortunately both bacon and smoked salmon aren’t well-known for their low-calorie properties. But it is a carb-free salad.  And pretty filling I have to say.  I think you would like the version with chipolatas.

Peter: Clearly this is a flexible salad. I like the sound of chipolatas.

Anna: So you would like me to do this again?

Peter: I wouldn’t say no.

“Lentil Salad Three Ways” from “Virgin to Veteran”

“Sausage and lentil stew” and “Pear and cinnamon tart” from “Easy Meals”

Anna: We’re multi-tasking: blogging whilst rocking the baby to sleep. It’s the only thing we can do in the dark.

Peter: Not true. We could watch the Monte Carlo rally.

Anna: Technically yes. So, last night’s dinner. What did you think to it?

Peter: Initial impressions: Where is it?

Anna: What do you mean?

Peter: The portions for the casserole were small.

Anna: I thought it was just right. But you do like more than two sausages.

Peter: In retrospect it was quite filling. But on the plate it looked small.

Anna: There’s a solution for that. Serve on it on a smaller plate.  I liked the way the sausages just fell apart. That may have been because they had longer in the oven than the recipe called for as I had to keep the dinner warm while I fed the baby. But it was a great recipe – dead easy, really yummy and we’ll be doing it again as it’s perfect for the type of meal we eat in the evenings now.

Peter: The tart was nice. Simple and fresh.

Anna: I loved the way it filled the house with the smell of cinnamon. I’m a sucker for cinnamon.

Peter: This was a zero effort recipe was it?

Anna: Your mum made it and I think it was pretty easy. She did say though that she couldn’t toss the pears in the butter and sugar mix as the recipe called for because the mixture went solid. Instead she crumbled it on top, like a crumble in fact, and it worked very well I think.

Peter: It was a good meal. Hearty winter fare.

“Sausage and lentil stew” and “Pear and cinnamon tart” from “Easy Meals”