Castelluccio lentils with tomatoes and Gorgonzola

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I recently wrote a piece on the wonderful Castelluccio lentils from Umbria and here is a recipe which really shows them off in all their gastronomic glory.  This makes a great salad to accompany grilled chicken or fish but it is also a meal in itself and is a firm favourite for me. Add some crunchy warm sourdough bread or ciabatta and a glass of chilled Sangiovese or Tempranillo and you have a meal made in heaven. This recipe serves 4.

Just as an aside, If you don’t like gorgonzola, I have made this using feta and it still works well. I have also made this with puy lentils, so keep it in mind even if you don’t have the Umbrian lentils in your pantry.

 

Castelluccio lentils with tomatoes and gorgonzola

1 small red onion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon god-quality red-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon good quality sea salt

250g Castelluccio lentils

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons chopped chives

4 tablespoons chopped dill

80g mild gorgonzola, cut into rough chunks

freshly ground black pepper

Oven dried tomatoes

400g plum tomatoes (about 5)

8 thyme sprigs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons thick balsamic vinegar

 

Start by making the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 130C. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place them skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Arrange thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for one to one and a half hours or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.
 
Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit.
 
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 3cm above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and whilst still warm, add to the sliced onion. Add the olive oil, garlic and some of the black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning according to your preference.
 
To serve, pile up the lentils in a serving platter or large bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you building up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juice on top and serve.
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