Some days you just get feelings for things you want to cook. Others are about what you know has been sitting, reproachfully, in your cupboard for ages and making you feel that you have to cook it, now! So it was with lentils the other night. It was time to cook them – and, given my long standing hatred of potatoes, what better accompaniment to Cod with Thyme Oil?
I love lentils – love all pulses in fact, but that’s a scribbling for a different day – especially in a vinaigrette dressing. And most especially if they are those small greeny-grey Puy lentils from the Auvergne in France. They are pricy, even in Ireland, but here they are rare and beyond the budget except, maybe, for special occasions. The lentils that I had to hand were common or garden brown lentils. They might not have the shape-keeping abilities of the fabulous Puy lentil (I’ve seen these described as “poor man’s caviar” on occasion which seems to me to be stretching the point a little) but they’re still a tasty option, especially when cooked with strong flavours.
Taking into consideration the fact that bacon and cod are perfect partners, I added some good dry cured bacon from the local butcher into the equation. But that was not enough for me – I had to have sauce – and so some cream was pressed into service, to mix through the lentils and bacon and give me the unctiousness that I was looking for. Otherwise a meal of fish and lentils would have felt all too healthy altogether. A marriage made in heaven? Well, not far from it – and the leftovers were perfect with rice the following day.
Creamy Lentils with Bacon
Lentils – 400g
Bay leaf – 1
Onion – 1, cut into slices
Garlic – 1 clove, chopped
Bacon – 3 slices or 75g, chopped
Cream – 150ml
Put the lentils into a pan with the bay leaf and cover them with cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down heat and simmer until tender and cooked. This will take approximately 15 minutes, depending on how long the lentils have been sitting around for. Drain and leave to one side.
Meanwhile, fry the onion in a little olive oil over a moderate heat until it is starting to brown and caramelise. Remove from the pan and raise the temperature then add the garlic and bacon. Cook for two minutes, turn down the heat, then mix in the onions, lentils and cream. Warm gently until hot through, add salt and pepper to taste then serve.