Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cabbage and lentil gratin recipe

We have been giving a lot of thought to what we eat recently. In fact
Cabbage and lentil gratin 
since I read (and have then been incessantly quoting) Farmageddon. I was shocked to learn about the poor nutritional content of factory farmed meat although it makes sense when we consider the reduction in flavour that we have noticed over the past few years. We seem to be commenting more often on the blandness of meat and poultry, yet without a similar lack of flavour to all foods so it's not just our taste buds wearing out.

One of the ways Farmageddon suggested individual consumers can help to end factory farming is by not buying its produce. We already buy free range eggs and had upgraded our chicken to RSPCA Freedom Food as a result of Hugh F-W's television documentary. However, free range and organically produced meat can be pricey compared to what we are used to paying. So even with smaller portions, in order not to totally blow the week's food budget by Thursday, we are going to need to eat more veggies. Yes, even Dave! He did like this veggie gratin although I'm not sure he considered it as complete a meal as I did!

70g brown or green lentils
Stock cube or enough stock to cook lentils in
1/4 of a white cabbage, shredded
25g breadcrumbs
25g grated parmesan cheese (or similar)
Dozen black olives, pipped and quartered

Olive oil
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 a red pepper, diced
1 tsp ground coriander
Good pinch mixed herbs
400g tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

Cook lentils in boiling stock until just tender. Drain and set aside.
Boil cabbage for 3-4 minutes until just tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Set aside.

Meanwhile, fry onion, garlic and red pepper in olive oil until softened.
Stir in ground coriander and mixed herbs. Add tinned tomatoes and break them up if necessary. Add tomato puree and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and leave to simmer until you have a thick sauce. It takes about 20 minutes and I stirred the sauce occasionally to prevent it sticking.

Mix the lentils and cabbage into the tomato sauce and pour all three into a gratin dish if you have one (or the closest you have!). Mix the cheese and breadcrumbs together. Sprinkle half over the veggies, dot with the olive quarters, then sprinkle the rest of the cheesy breadcrumbs.

Bake for 20-30 minutes in an oven preheated to 180c.

We enjoyed this meal although Dave thought there was too much cabbage in relation to the lentils and sauce. I made the topping with a pseudo-parmesan because that's what we had in the fridge. It had a good flavour, but another time I might try a grated cheddar instead in order to get a gooey-er effect and perhaps to hold the veggies together more on the plate.
I guess other veggies could easily be substituted for the cabbage depending what you have available at the time, and this gratin would also make an excellent veggie side dish as part of a larger meal.

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