French Lentils with Roasted Radishes

French Lentils with Roasted Radishes

SERVES 4 – BY JULIE MORRIS

The French countryside, with its romantic rolling hills, painterly skies, and centuries-old villages is one of my favourite places to visit. And with family living there half the year, I try and make those visits as frequent as possible. We love cooking and eating and chatting the day away, and we always make good use of seasonal specialties from the local markets in impromptu recipes. This brain-healthy dish is the result of one such spontaneous supper, which has since reappeared many times in my kitchen back in California.

Ingredients

  • 300g (10.5 oz) Puy (French) lentils, or black lentils
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 60g (2 oz) radishes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 large cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh mint
  • 10g (0.5 oz) minced fresh chives
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds, divided
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 60g (2 oz) (packed) mâche or baby spinach
  • 120g (4.2 oz) Almond Ricotta (see recipe below

To serve

  • 1
    Preheat the oven to 220°C/450°F/Gas 7.
  • 2
    In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the lentils and the bay leaf with the water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer gently until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 15–20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander over the sink, and remove the bay leaf. Transfer the lentils to a bowl and season them with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Cover the bowl to keep the lentils warm.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, clean and trim the radishes, removing the stems, while leaving their tails intact. Halve the radishes lengthwise, and quarter any large halves. Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in an ovenproof sauté pan* over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the radishes to the pan in a single layer (flat side down as much as possible), season generously with salt and pepper, and cook for 2–3 minutes to lightly sear the bottoms. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the garlic, distributing it well, and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the radishes for 7–12 minutes (depending on their size), until they are vibrantly red and lightly golden on the edges. Remove the pan from the oven.
  • 4
    In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked lentils, roasted radishes and their cooking juices, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mint, chives, 2 tablespoons of the hemp seeds, lemon juice, and the mâche or baby spinach to the bowl. Toss the mixture to combine and season to taste with additional salt and pepper as desired.
  • 5
    Add the Almond Ricotta to the mixture in small dollops and fold it into the mixture gently, retaining the dollops as much as possible. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of hemp seeds on top, and serve warm or at room temperature.

*If you don’t have an ovenproof sauté pan, use a regular skillet and then transfer the cooked radishes to a baking sheet before roasting them in the oven.

BRAIN BOOST: Mix 1 tablespoon of reishi powder or lion’s mane powder into the lentils after you’ve cooked and drained them.

Smart Plants by Julie Morris. Extracts supplied with permission by Sterling

Almond Ricotta

MAKES 480ML (2 CUPS)

  • 225g (1½ cups) blanched, slivered almonds, soaked in water for 4–6 hours
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 1½ tsp yellow miso paste
  • 60ml (¼ cup) unsweetened coconut-milk yogurt, or other unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
  • 2-4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

To serve

Rinse and drain the almonds very well in a colander over the sink, shaking out as much excess moisture as possible. Place the nuts in a blender, along with the lemon juice, salt, miso, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of the almond milk.

On low speed, process the mixture into a ricotta-like puree, stopping the machine as needed and scraping down the sides to push the cheese down toward the blades. (You may need to do this several times, and it will likely take a few minutes to make the puree.) Add additional almond milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, only if needed to blend— the cheese mixture should be very thick. Once it is smooth and ricotta-like, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the cheese for a minimum of 4 hours before serving, to allow the flavours to meld and the cheese to set. 2. The finished ricotta can be refrigerated and enjoyed for up to 7 days.

Brain Boost: While this recipe is not particularly friendly to the addition of powdered nootropics due to its delicate flavour, it’s phenomenal served with fresh berries like blueberries and blackberries.