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Today marks the first day of our new, healthier eating plan. To ease the pain, we spent some time with our cookery books over the weekend and came up with some interesting, low-fat options.
Stephen bought me Skye Gingell’s “A Year in my Kitchen” for Christmas, a book that’s been on my wishlist for a while. The braised lentil dish is one that stood out on the first read; I really like puy lentils but don’t use them very often because I’m never really sure what to do with them. The lentils, combined with the simple chicken (the healthy-eater’s favourite) seemed like a winner for our first day and, conveniently, we had everything we needed….or so we thought.
The lentils were easy to cook but took longer than the recipe stated. I’m not sure whether it was purposefully or not but there was no instruction to season the lentils while cooking. I’m glad I checked because, despite the other ingredients (garlic, ginger, chilli, parsley, coriander root, onion, carrot, bay leaves), after 20 minutes of cooking there was very little flavour happening.
The next step was to add soy sauce, sherry vinegar and sesame oil. I did so and then left the lentils to soak up the flavours while we cooked the chicken. These added ingredients certainly helped to impart some much-needed flavour but I wasn’t entirely sure about the combination. The sherry vinegar added warmth but the soy sauce and sesame oil seemed harsh against the other, very subtle flavours.
At this point it all went a bit wrong. The idea behind the lentil dish is that it’s a “toolbox” recipe, something you have in your fridge and can use with other ingredients…like the chicken. We were supposed to add some chicken stock to the lentils but forgot. We were also supposed to use other “toolbox” dishes to compliment the chicken and lentils but we didn’t. They were oven-dried tomatoes (I realised too late that I didn’t have any tomatoes and it was raining), basil oil and garlic aioli. We’d already decided to skip the oil and aioli in order to maximise the healthiness which, in retrospect, was probably a mistake. We did re-hydrate some sundried tomatoes and used those instead which worked OK but I can see how the oven-dried tomatoes would have improved the dish; the chicken stock would have made the dish less dry too.
So, all in all, not a great start to the plan. This does have potential though and we may re-visit it at some point, taking care to remember the stock and the tomatoes.