Nutty Vegetable & Lentil Bake

A delicious healthy and wholesome meal to feed a hungry crowd

Nutty Lentil & Vegetable Bake.

In a large saucepan cook 175grams of red lentils as per the packet until thick and cooked through (taking about 30 minutes). Then using your favourite means of cooking vegetables; soften 2 large sliced carrots, 2 sliced peppers and 2 chopped celery sticks, and a large chopped onion. When both vegetables and lentils albeit in their separate pans are ready combine the two mixes with a tin of chopped tomatoes, a good teaspoon of mixed herbs, perhaps a swig of Worcester or Tabasco sauce (if you like your food with kick) and season to taste (at this stage try and keep some for supper!) and pour into an oven proof dish. If you think the mix is a little wet add a sprinkling of vegetarian gravy granules, not only to thicken the mix but to add a little extra taste as well. On top of this lovely healthy mixture sprinkle 4oz of breadcrumbs (granary or wholemeal are tastiest) mixed together with a good handful of chopped mixed nuts then pop in the oven for about half an hour to cook through and brown on top.

As usual with my recipes it can have many adaptations and variations so please use whatever vegetables you like, omit the pepper or add an extra one, add a chopped aubergine or courgette, perhaps some mushrooms, use a red onion instead of the normal for extra colour, use white breadcrumbs instead of granary, omit the nuts, or even add more, or add sunflower or sesame seeds on top or even sliced par boiled potatoes instead of the breadcrumbs with perhaps some grated cheese over the top for the last few minutes of cooking, but whatever do, it will surely prove a winner.

These quantities serve about 4 people but the dish works very well doubling or even tripling the quantities and if you use the breadcrumbs on top it freezes very well, but if you like the idea of sliced par boiled potatoes on top just freeze the lentil mix then having defrosted add the potatoes just before cooking as frozen thinly sliced potatoes are not always very successful.

Another tip is if you are making breadcrumbs do if possible use a food processor, perhaps whiz up a whole loaf, pack in freezer bags, freeze and use straight from the freezer weeks later. Another tip which I may I have mentioned before but so useful it is worth a reminder is cooking lentils can be notorious for ruining the pan –they can burn so easily and quickly!! If this happens the solution is simple. Sprinkle the burnt pan with a heaped tablespoon of biological washing powder and a covering of hot water, leave overnight and hey presto the next morning the burnt offerings just lift off the bottom of the pan! And I should know…