I wandered into my favourite greengrocer yesterday in search of inspiration, and came out laden with half the store. Amongst the wooden crates I found the most beautifully vibrant baby carrots and blushing, freckled pomegranate orb.
Although lentils and carrots are usually associated with comfort and winter, I used fresh orange and pomegranate jewels to lift them to a lighter, more summery dish.
The carrots are poached in orange juice and maple syrup until juicy and softened and the liquid has reduced to a golden caramel. They are then roasted until sticky, slightly charred and a little withered, but dense with succulence and depth of flavour. The caramel is turned into a citrusy dressing to drench the lentils, with the sweetness balanced with the salty kick of feta.
200g puy lentils
2 tsp vegetable bouillon stock
1 litre boiling water
400g baby carrots
Juice of 3 oranges (15 tbsp)
5 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
¼ tsp salt
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 oranges supremed (i.e. segmented with skin and membrane removed)
140g pomegranate seeds (half a pomegranate)
20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- Place lentils, stock and boiling water in a pan over a high heat and allow to simmer with a lid on for 30-35 minutes until fully cooked. They should be soft and no longer chalky, but definitely not mushy. Drain them, and set aside in a bowl to cool.
- While the lentils are cooking, prepare the carrots: pour the orange juice into a large frying pan over a medium high heat, add the maple syrup and salt, and stir to combine. Carefully arrange the carrots in the pan and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the carrots have softened and the liquid has reduced by about two thirds and become viscous and syrupy. Remove from the heat.
- Preheat the grill to 230˚C. Remove the carrots from the frying pan (while preserving the syrup), arrange them on a baking tray and grill for 5 minutes (checking after 3 minutes) or until they are slightly charred.
- Into the pan with the remaining syrup, pour in the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, crushed garlic cloves and salt to make the dressing. Stir the mixture over a low heat until fully combined. Pour the warmed dressing over the bowl of lentils.
- To serve, carefully spoon the lentils and any non-absorbed dressing on to a platter, and scatter with pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta. Arrange the orange segments and roasted carrots over the top, and sprinkle with the chopped coriander.