GREEN LENTILS, ASPARAGUS AND WATERCRESS
200g. green lentils
120g. watercress, thick stalks removed
150mls. light olive oil
400g. asparagus spears
100g. pecorino cheese
4 lemon wedges,
salt and black pepper
Wash the lentils in cold water, then place in a saucepan with plenty of fresh water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked.
While the lentils are cooking, put half of the watercress, the parsley, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and some salt into a food processor. Blitz until smooth and pour into a bowl.
As soon as the lentils are cooked drain them well and mix them while still hot with the watercress dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Break off the end of the asparagus spears and discard. Cook the asparagus in simmering salted water for 2 – 3 minutes, drain and cut the spears into roughly 6cm. long segments.
You can serve the salad warm or at room temperature. Toss together the lentils, asparagus and most of the remaining watercress. Add pieces of cheese as you plate up and garnish with the reserved watercress. Serve with wedges of lemon.
I think this salad would be lovely served with a piece of roast chicken or salmon with a salsa verde sauce for the chicken or salmon. To make a salsa verde sauce you need 1 large bunch of mixed herbs (parsley, basil and mint say), 1 clove of garlic, 2 tbsps. of capers, 3 gherkins, 2 – 3 anchovy fillets, 1 heaped tbsp. of french mustard, 4 tbsps. olive oil, 1 – 2 tbsps. red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. Chop all the herbs, capers, gherkins and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
Alternatively, you could add a cooked breast of chicken or salmon to the salad, omit the cheese, and make it a more substantial dish.
500g. thick (not low fat) Greek yogurt
1 ½ tsp. caster sugar
3 tbsps. good honey
Mix yogurt and 50g. of icing sugar and set over a basin lined with muslin or a clean J-cloth. Put in the fridge and leave to drain overnight (12 hours is best).
Hull and quarter the strawberries and mix with the sugar and rosewater and leave to macerate for a few hours.
Gently fold the honey into the labneh which, by now, will resemble cream cheese. Puree a quarter of the strawberries, pile the rest on top of the labneh and drizzle with the pureed strawberries.
This can be served with poached fruits such as plums or rhubarb, or raspberries rather than strawberries.
To make savoury labneh mix 500g. of thick Greek yogurt with 1/2 tsp. of salt and leave to drain overnight as before.
Make the labneh into balls by rolling between your hands to shape them and then leaving on a clean cloth lined tray. They can be marinated in olive oil (4 tbsps. for this quantity), some dried oregano or fresh thyme leaves (about 1 tbsp.), the zest of a lemon and a few chilli flakes. Store in the fridge and serve with flatbreads as a starter or nibble.