“They don’t look too promising….” was Meredith’s verdict on the three fennel bulbs I had lined up on the chopping board.
I admit they looked like someone who’d had an extreme haircut.
(My guess: Frost had got the tops, so the make-up & hair department prettied them up for market!)
Appearances can be deceptive, as my mother must have cautioned me.
The customary clean-up revealed their core to be firm and useable.
They served perfectly.
Always on the lookout for “one-dish wonders“, I found this one in Rose Elliott’s classic The Bean Book.
I treasure both my Rose Elliott books–the other being Not Just a Load of Lentils.
A prolific cookbook author, she has written over sixty books!
The topping here is red lentils and onions cooked down to resemble yellow mashed potatoes:
A sprinkling of parmesan and wholewheat breadcrumbs finishes off the dish so it browns nicely.
It worked so well, I plan to try it over seafood to create the classic fish pie that I’ve been missing since I was diagnosed with Type 2.
Oh boy! This opens up a whole new horizons!
I shall go pie-mad experimenting with this!
- 6 oz red lentils–washed clear and drained
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion–chopped
- 400 ml stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes (14 fluid ounces or just under two cups)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1lb fennel bulbs (after removing outer leaves and coring)–chopped into large chunks
- salt and pepper
- a tablespoon each of wholewheat breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, mixed–more if you like.
- juice of half a lemon
Choose a presentable oven proof dish and lightly oil or butter the base.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in the olive oil with the bay leaf until opaque–five minutes or so–stirring occasionally.
Add the drained lentils and stir in the stock.
Cook them, covered, over a gentle heat until they have softened and formed a loose mash.
Let it cool a bit then blitz with a hand-held blender to a smooth consistency like mashed potatoes.
Mix in the lemon juice.
In another saucepan cook the fennel chunks in enough lightly salted water to cover until just tender.
Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to the oven-bound serving dish.
Season well with salt and black pepper and turn them over thoroughly.
Spread the lentil mash evenly over the fennel and finish with a sprinkling of the parmesan and breadcrumb mixture.
Drizzle over some olive oil and place in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes.
It should come out with a lovely sizzling brown top.
Serve as a main dish or as an accompaniment.
It was a perfect foil for some left-over red bean chili (another simple wonder from Rose Elliott) the other night.