I have always been a fan of the humble lentil. There's something very comforting about lentil dishes and they always remind me of the winter days of my childhood. After a very hectic week, during which far too much take-away has once more been consumed, what could be better than a warming cheesy lentil dish? If Gruyère is a bit strong for your tastes, you could use 6 oz (175 g) of Cheddar.
You will notice that there is no finished 'on the plate' photo for this recipe. The reason is simple... this dish is a sloppy one that will not allow you to transfer it from the oven dish to the plate in any manner that does not result in a splodge of lentil mushiness. That said, when served it may not look like much, but it is scrumptiousness itself.
6 oz (175 g) split red lentils
1 heaped teaspoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon mixed herbs
12 fl oz (350 ml) water, boiled
2 oz (50 g) butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 x 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4¼ oz (120 g) Gruyère cheese, grated
¼ pint (140 ml) soured cream
Begin by washing the lentils. Pop them into a saucepan with the basil and mixed herbs, pour over the hot water and bring to the boil, then simmer for around 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the lentils are tender.
Put the butter into a pan and sauté the onions for about five minutes. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
Add to the onions the cooked lentils, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, brown sugar and a seasoning of salt and pepper (see photo above). Simmer for about 15 minutes, then transfer everything to a greased 9 inch (23 cm) oven-proof dish and pour over the soured cream (see photo below - it will blob at first, but will then begin to spread out).
Sprinkle the cheese on top (see photo above), then bake in the oven until the cheese has melted. Serve hot with a nice mixed salad.
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