MIDDLE EASTERN LENTILS with CHARD & TAHINI

TIME: 30min FEEDS: 4 as part of a spread or 2 as a stand alone dish
WHO WILL LOVE THIS: veggies & vegans

Chard is a organic box favrouite and I was looking for interesting ways to cook it. Very mild tasting chard is a form of beetroot and an excellent source of fibre. The rule to enjoying chard is to wash it really well, as with spinach there is nothing quite as unappealing as biting into a mouthful of sand. I love a good mezze platter and this dish is perfect for those days where you want to have a tray on the table and everyone just helps themselves to a good spread.

HOW TO PREP SWISS CHARD

Pull the leaves from the stalks, reserving the stalks. Place the leaves in cold water in a large bowl and swirl around roughly, drain and repeat. Spin the leaves in a salad spinner* and tip onto a clean tea towel. Cut the ends of the stalks (the browny bits) and wash in running water, rubbing your fingers over the stalks. Place on clean tea towel and dry the stalks and leaves. Stalks and leaves cook at different times, so always chop stalks into smaller blocks and cook first, after about 3-5min, you can then add the chopped chard leaves.

INGREDIENTS
1 can brown lentils or 400g cooked brown lentils *
2 tablespoons good olive oil *
1 large bunch of chard, chopped leaves & stalks
2 tspn cumin seeds
3 small garlic cloves, minced or crushed
3 tablespoons tahini (start with 3 you can always add more)
1 green chilli, finely chopped, seeds removed if too hot
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sumac or pull biber *
100ml water

METHOD
Heat some olive oil on a medium heat in a large saucepan and gently fry the chard stalks for 10/12minutes until completely soft, while they are frying;

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until you can smell the aroma, tip into a mortar and pestle * and grind to a fine powder.

Add the ground cumin to the chard stalks, add the garlic and fry for a few minutes until the garlic has softened, then add the chopped chard leaves and pour in the water, you don’t want a dry mixture, think scooping on a pita bread, add a few tablespoons of water if you need to. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the leaves have wilted.

Add the lentils to the chard along with the tahini, chilli, lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Add a good glug of olive oil and cook uncovered for another 5minutes. Taste and season, you will definitely need another good squeeze of lemon juice.

Pour into a fancy shallow bowl, let it come to room temperature and sprinkle the sumac or pul biber over and a few tablespoons of olive oil, serve alongside wedges of lemon.

WHERE TO FIND or BUY THE INGREDIENTS

Salad Spinner – HERE
Fantastic mortar & pestle HERE
The best pepper grinder – its important to find a grinder which grinds the pepper into a fine consistency, apart from biting into sand, biting into a whole peppercorn comes a close second! I can’t seem to find it online but when you are next in woolies look for a white pepper grinder with a wooden top – it’s the best I have 3!
Olive Oil – I can write chapters on Olive Oil but here is the summary ALWAYS use extra virgin, local, avoid blended oils, cold pressed and organic (if you use it as much as I do).
Sumac has a lovely red colour and a tangy taste and essential in middle eastern cooking, think lemon & lime – you can find it at Olive Branch Deli and I think Woolies too just make sure its not irradiated. HERE
Pul Biber – a smoked spicy middle eastern chilli pepper spice – spice varies so ask Ommy which is the mildest or spiciest to your liking – HERE
Tahini is made from sesame seeds, make sure its pourable though – HERE

TIPS & NOTES from my kitchen:
Cook 225g brown lentils in a saucepan of simmering water for 30minutes or until completely soft, drain & rinse
A good SPREAD would be some plain yogurt, toasted pita breads, some good green olives (I LOVE these) and some chopped chilli’s.

 

Recipe inspired by Yasmin Khan Zaitoun