This is the common variety – the sparrow of the pulse world – and it has a warm, spicy note and keeps its shape, rather than collapsing to a purée when cooked, like its khaki and orange cousins. The third instalment of Nigel Slater's classic Kitchen Diaries series, A Year of Good Eating explores the balance and pleasure in eating well throughout the year. Ideally, I cook them from scratch, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There is no fresh veg and the fridge is bare. One of my favourite things to do with Puy lentils is this (inspired by Nigel Slater) Cook them until still quite firm (20 min or so). Not only beautiful lentilles du puy, those diminutive beads the colour of country roof slates, but the less fashionable yet equally delicious brown lentils. 3 medium-sized onions3 large cloves garlic3 tbsp olive oila few whole sprigs of thyme2 bay leaves2 x 400g cans of crushed tomatoes (or passata)2 x 400g cans of butter beans2 medium-sized whole chillies2 tbsp black treacle1 tbsp grain mustard1 tbsp smooth French mustard. Leave to cook, partially covered with a lid, for a good hour – maybe a little longer depending on your onions, until they are tender to the point of a skewer. Fill their hollows with some of the lentil stuffing, spoon any remaining filling into the base of the dish. Butter beans, red kidney beans and chickpeas all seem to emerge from the process almost as complete as they went in, while the softer cannellini and the exceptionally fragile green flageolet can often resemble lumpy hummus when you finally extricate them from their little aluminium home. The bay leaves don’t add a fat lot of flavour to the onions, but they do, I find, take the edge off the smell of the boiling onions. Or, on a rather more everyday note, a good packed lunch. Fat, smooth and creamy, it’s the Werther’s Original of the pulse family. Some bean dishes, particularly those involving tomato sauce, can be as good cold as they are hot. Prepare a simple vinaigrette by mixing the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Meanwhile, peel the onion, chop it finely and add to the bacon. Check the cooking instructions/ time on the lentil’s packaging – usually it will take about 15-20 minutes to cook. here’s a surfeit of lentils in the cupboard. Yet what could be simpler and cheaper than using some sort of bean or chickpea or lentil as the heart and soul of a meal? But with lentils and cans of beans, Nigel Slater conjures up a magical feast, Lentils, bay leaves and thyme. Blitz the beetroot to a rough purée. Wash and trim the beetroot and place in a metal baking dish. Lamb fillet, stock, puy lentils, thyme, garlic, spinach, double cream You will need a neck fillet of lamb, roughly 300g in weight. When I’m in a need of a comforting food hug I hunt out this recipe for Nigel Slater’s lentil and spinach cottage pie.Packed full of nutty lentils, vegetables and spinach, with a crispy potato and spinach top, it’s nutritious and delicious, with the added bonus that … It is worth taking your time over this. I lightened my load by turning one batch into a creamy, mildly spiced dish (ginger, garam masala, crème fraîche) with a flash of deep red beetroot swirling through. Discover (and save!) Sometimes a can will get me out of trouble. We all have old boxes of lentils in the larder. Add the paprika, cinnamon, then grate in ½ of the nutmeg. Don’t let them colour. 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