River Cottage Veg is my new favourite cookbook. I’ve found myself completely taken with it in the last couple of months and feeling very inspired to cook fresh, lovely vegetable dishes. I really like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s philosophy on food and that his writing isn’t fussy or overly stylised. The dishes are simple, not convoluted or too complex, which is right up my alley and very much my own way of cooking.
One of my biggest pet peeves with vegetarian cookbooks is that many seem to focus on meat replacements or finding substitutes that mimic the texture or flavour of meat. I don’t think that does vegetables justice! There’s definitely a place for veggie “meat” balls and vegetarian versions of classic meat-centric dishes, but what I love about this book is that the vegetables sing. As a meat eater perhaps Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall doesn’t feel the need to replace and instead he celebrates vegetables for themselves.
It’s become a bit of a Sunday evening habit for me in the last few weeks to make some socca to snack on (who am I kidding, to attack some socca like a starved person) and then open up River Cottage Veg to make something for supper.
There are a couple of lovely green lentil recipes in the book and I’ve taken to combining my favourite elements from each to create the dish below. It’s quick, which I obviously like, and has a zingy mustard dressing that I ADORE. I wolf this stuff down and I suspect you will too.
All you have to do is cook the lentils and then swirl in some fresh arugula, parsley, and that mustardy dressing for zing. It makes for a really lovely and quick weeknight dinner when you want something healthy and bright tasting, which for me seems to be most nights during the summer.
Lentils with Greens, Parsley, and Mustard Dressing
adapted from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
- 1 1/3 cups (330 mL) French green lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- A few parsley stems (optional)
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) cider vinegar
- A small squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- A little lemon zest
- 2 tsp (10 ml) Dijon mustard
- Pinch each salt and sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 green onions, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- Large handful of arugula (rocket)
- Leaves from a bunch of flat-leaf parsley
- Put the lentils in a saucepan and add plenty of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute only, then drain.
- Return the lentils to the pan and pour in just enough water to cover them. Add the bay leaf, garlic and parsley stems, if using. Bring back to a very gentle simmer, and cook slowly for about half an hour, until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain the lentils and discard the herbs and garlic.
- For the dressing, add the following to a jar with a screw-top lid: olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon juice and zest, mustard, salt, sugar and a few twists of black pepper. Cap and shake vigorously to emulsify.
- Toss the warm or cooled lentils with the arugula, parsley leaves, green onions, and the vinaigrette.