Vegetarian delight: Herby lentils topped with burrata

This year, I have once again been observing my vegetarian September, which I started back in 2013. Every year, it makes me pay a bit more attention to what I eat, and it’s always an inspiration for new recipes. In 2017, my favourite so far has been this one: herby lentils topped with burrata.

This dish is inspired by my Polpo cookbook, which also gave me the lovely rocket and walnut pesto a few years ago. It’s a veritable taste explosion, very easy to make, and surprisingly light (provided you go easy on the burrata!). I made a few changes, namely forgoing the celery (can’t stand the stuff), using chopped basil rather than making basil oil, and adding fresh lemon juice.

Burrata is the most glorious of all ingredients, and one I’ve only discovered quite recently (I am forever indebted to my sister for introducing me to it!). For those of you who haven’t yet boarded the Burrata Express, it’s a type of mozzarella, but with added cream inside. It’s stringy, indulgent, positively foodgasmic, and can sometimes be hard to find. I get mine at Waitrose or my local greengrocer’s, but you can use buffalo mozzarella in its place, which is not quite as creamy, but will do the job.

If you’re pressed for time, you can use canned lentils, but I prefer to cook them fresh, as it only takes 20 minutes, and that way I can judge the tenderness myself. I also love the flavour and smell of thyme in this dish, as it’s a herb I don’t normally use. It adds a lovely depth to the lentils, and combined with fresh basil, your tastebuds won’t even know what hit them…

Serves 2-3 people as a light dinner

  • 100g green lentils
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, finely chopped (I used my food processor)
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped (I used my food processor)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used my food processor)
  • 5-7 sprigs of thyme, just the leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 packet of fresh basil (around 90g), chopped, with a few leaves kept aside
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 ball of burrata (200g)
  • Olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the lentils, cover them with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 10-15 mins, until they are tender (make sure they retain some bite). Drain and keep aside (I added a dash of olive oil to stop them from sticking). You can also use canned lentils if you like, or prepare them ahead of time.

Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan and sweat the garlic, carrots and onion with the thyme, freshly ground black pepper, and 1 tsp of salt on medium heat until they are soft and translucent. If they start to stick, add a bit of water rather than oil and keep stirring. This should take around 10-15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and then stir the cooked lentils into the mixture before adding the mustard and chopped basil. Stir to combine, and add salt if necessary.

Spoon the mixture into a shallow bowl and top with the whole basil leaves. Tear open your burrata and place some pieces on top – it will melt with the heat from the lentils, making it even more creamy and delicious! Garnish with some freshly ground black pepper or a bit of Creole salt, and DIG IN.

 

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