I hate to begin writing anything with a bunch of excuses, but I’ve just been too busy to write lately. It’s always this time of year that my schedule becomes inexplicably hectic, my diary gets booked up, my inbox spirals out of control and I find myself eating chiller cabinet pizza for dinner twice in the same week. The shame, the shame.
I realise it’s been two weeks, but I have managed to do a little bit of cooking in amongst my frenzied attempts to grab food where I can. Although I am now on first name terms with the entire staff of the Great Portland Street branch of Pret, who may or may not have witnessed me having a complete meltdown over the phone, I have also got to spend time eating nice things: Like last week I finally got to go to Asma Khan’s wonderful Darjeeling Express residency at The Sun and 13 Cantons for a sublimely happy dinner with my best friend where no work was discussed at all. Also, Honey and Co. is within sneaking off-distance from my desk, so I’ve been hiding in there with coffee and cake. A lot.
I wish I could come back to you, lovely readers, all excited about a new recipe that I devised last week; but I really need to get started on the backlog. The recipes that I have been itching to share for a while now but haven’t managed to get down in type. The pieces of oil-splatted notepaper with odd scribbles on that are littered across my desk and threatening to overwhelm me.
This baked eggs and lentils dish was from a few weeks back, and I absolutely loved it. It was driven by my need to use up some old kale I had in the fridge after a Sunday lunch, and inspired by a recipe I found on the Serious Eats website. It is reminiscent of shakshuka, and its many variants, which I will often cook for breakfast at the weekend, but made more substantial with the addition of puy lentils. I have a bit of a thing for lentils and eggs, somehow the yolk just adds to the brilliance of lentil dishes. Especially if you have good bread handy.
Spiced Lentils and Tomatoes with Kale and Baked Eggs
½ onion, finely diced
1 mild red chilli
Sea salt and black pepper
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
350ml vegetable stock
200g dried puy lentils
150g kale, shredded
4 or 6 eggs
Finely chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 180°c.
Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan, or chef’s pan, over a medium heat and gently cook the onion and chilli, with a little salt, until soft, about five minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer.
Add the lentils and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes until soft. Stir in the kale during the last couple of minutes of cooking and check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if required.
Remove from the heat and make wells in the mixture for the eggs. Crack the eggs into the wells and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the eggs are cooked to your liking, checking them after five minutes and then every couple of minutes thereafter. Garnish with parsley to serve.
Serves 2-3. Adapted from a recipe from Serious Eats.