I never appreciated lentils until I left home. Lentils were boring, weren’t they? And y’know, farty. I then discovered Indian dal and Spanish lentejas and the little French puy lentils and I’m not sure how it happened but I now love the little legumes. They’re cheap, they’re healthy, they’re tasty – what’s not to like? Well, ok, so they’re still a bit farty but we all can’t be perfect.

Lentils with Chorizo

This recipe for lentils with chorizo is easy – if you didn’t want to mess up both a pot and a pan, you could fry the onion, garlic and chorizo in the pot and then chuck everything else in and set it to simmer. I wanted to get my lentils on first to save time that chilly weekday. It makes for a budget meal too as I reckon it costs about £1 a serving. You can bulk it out a bit more by adding potatoes too.

Poor Blai though! Just the look and smell of these triggered memories of terrible school lunch lentils; he admitted to feeling despair when presented with a bowl of them. Luckily (for him and me), he did proclaim enjoyment of the dish after a few spoonfuls! Hurrah!

Lentils with Chorizo
serves 3-4.

250g green lentils
150g chorizo
1 carrot
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste
olive oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic
a large pinch of dried chilli flakes
a large splash of dry sherry
1-2 tsp pimentón
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pick through your lentils (you’re checking for stones), wash them thoroughly and cover them with plenty of water and set to boil. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat till it’s at a strong simmer. Stir occasionally.

Peel and cut the carrot into large chunks and throw them, the tomato paste, and the bay leaf in with the lentils. Cut the chorizo into large chunks. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and throw in the chorizo and let fry in its own oil until the cut surfaces are golden. Stir the chorizo and its oil into the lentil pot.

Finely chop the onion. Place the frying pan back over the heat, add some olive oil and add the chopped onion and a large pinch of dried chilli flakes. Fry until the onion is golden. At this point, mince or chop the garlic and add it to the pan and fry until fragrant. Deglaze with the dry sherry and once all the alcohol has bubbled away, scrape everything into the lentil pot too.

Stir in the pimentón and continue simmering lentils until done – about 45 minutes altogether. Add more water if required during the simmering time – how thin you wish to have it is up to you. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with some bread on the side.

This recipe is for my brother, who’s been bugging me for it for a while! This is another of the one pot meals I throw together when I have no idea what to cook. It’s fast, cheap and tastes good too – all essential for a weeknight’s dinner. It doesn’t take much work and it’s unlikely a stop at the supermarket is needed. Most of the ingredients are cupboard or freezer or fridge staples.

Chorizo and Pea Rice

Once again, feel free to substitute or add or remove anything that takes your fancy but if you do make it like this, I highly recommend the chopped parsley and lemon at the end. It just lifts the richness from the chorizo. I first made this dish using basmati rice but we find that plain American long grain suits it better.

Chorizo and Pea Rice
serves 2-3.

1 medium sized onion, chopped
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thinly
a few large pinches of dried chili flakes
100g chorizo, chopped coarsely
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup (250mL) long grain rice
a few handfuls of frozen peas
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flat leafed parsley
lemon wedges

In a large saute pan (use one with a lid or have a large lid handy), heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the chopped onion until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and chili flakes and fry until fragrant. Toss in the chorizo and fry for another minute or so – the smoked paprika in the chorizo will colour everything! Then add the tomato paste and give it a good stir through. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain of rice with the reddish oil.

Pour in 2.5 cups of water and stir through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the saute pan. When the water has got quite warm but isn’t simmering yet, stir through the frozen peas. Shake the pan so the rice lays flat but not compacted and then cover again and leave until the rice is cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare your lemon wedges and chopped parsley for serving. When the rice is cooked, fluff it up with a fork and serve with a good scattering of parsley on top. Pass the lemon wedges.

Every year, at about this time, a particularly important deadline comes up and I’ll be working many a late night to meet it. There’s barely time to cook, let alone blog about it. Quick meals, like this one I had last week, now become extremely common in our household. With some good bread on the side, the whole meal is put together in under half an hour.

Preparation

The ingredients are easy to store and most of it can probably already be found in your pantry or fridge. It’s also a very malleable recipe and things can be substituted here and there. No sherry? Use white wine instead. Prefer a spicy Italian sausage? Feel free to use that instead of chorizo. Beans instead of chickpeas? Why not?! Sure beats takeaway or a frozen pizza (which unfortunately, have also made up too many dinners this past week).

Chorizo, Chickpea and Kale Stew

Chorizo, Chickpea and Kale Stew
serves 2-3

100g chorizo, chopped coarsely
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
olive oil
1-2 tins of chickpeas (2 tins if you want it to go further)
a good sized bunch of kale
a splash of dry sherry
half a tin of plum tomatoes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add a good pour of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and saute until golden. Add the chorizo and continue sauteing until the chorizo starts to crisp and all the oil is now orange. Toss in the garlic and let it sizzle for a minute or two. Add a good splash of dry sherry and let that bubble and then reduce. When the sherry has all but bubbled away, add the drained and rinsed chickpeas and the tomatoes and the paprika. Add some water and let it all simmer gently.

In the meantime, clean your kale and strip the leaves from the hard stems. Shred the leaves roughly with a knife. Toss them into the pan, add more water if it looks like it needs it and then cover the pan. The kale will steam thanks to the water in the pan. Every 5 minutes or so, take a peek, give it a stir and add more water and cover and continue steaming if the kale is not done to your liking. You might prefer it with a bit more of a bite or perhaps you’d like it like you’d find vegetables in the Mediterranean – very, very soft. By this time, the chickpeas will also have softened a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with some nice bread.