Life Food & Drink

Sunday 21 September 2014

Cornucopia's Leek, Spinach and Lentil Nut Roast

Eleanor Heffernan

Published 08/12/2013 | 02:30

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Cornucopia's Leek, Spinach and Lentil Nut Roast
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YOU WILL NEED

For the nut roast

6 bay leaves

500g red lentils

300g mixed nuts (hazelnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, brazil nuts etc)

1 onion

2 medium carrots

2 cloves of garlic

2 stalks of celery

A few springs of fresh thyme

6 leeks

400g spinach or baby spinach

Freshly grated nutmeg

A few sprigs of fresh basil

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the lemon and parsley sauce

150g cooked red lentils (from the main batch)

1 bulb of garlic

Juice of 1 -1½ lemons

200ml vegetable stock or 200ml boiling water with half a teaspoon of bouillon

50g fresh parsley (medium bunch)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

METHOD

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Start by cooking the lentils. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add two bay leaves and the lentils and reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from clumping together or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Cover with a lid and cook for 8-10 minutes, until soft and yellow. Drain in a sieve, remove the bay leaves and set aside. Do not be alarmed that the lentils are quite mushy.

When the oven is hot, spread the nuts out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for eight minutes, tossing once or twice.

Set aside to cool, rub them briskly to remove any loose skins and then chop them roughly.

Chop the top off the bulb of garlic (for the lemon and parsley sauce), toss the whole bulb in olive oil and place it in a small baking tray. Pour a little extra olive oil into the top to coat the garlic cloves inside. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then set it aside to cool.

Next, chop the onion, carrot, celery and garlic (two cloves) really finely. Coat the base of a large pot generously with olive oil, place it over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, the sprigs of thyme and two bay leaves.

Cover with a lid, reduce to a low heat and sweat for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are all just soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and then remove the thyme and bay leaves.

While the vegetables are sweating, prepare the spinach and leeks. If using regular spinach, remove the stalks and wash and drain thoroughly. Baby spinach generally comes pre-washed.

Keep half of a leek separate and unchopped to be used later as a garnish. Slice the rest of the leeks in half lengthways and then into medium pieces. Wash well in a big sink of water and set aside to drain.

Now coat a frying pan sparsely with olive oil and place over a high heat. Add half the spinach, some salt and pepper and a grating of nutmeg and cook until the spinach is soft and most of the moisture has evaporated from the pan. Repeat with the second batch of spinach, or use two pans simultaneously.

Add the cooked spinach to the mixing bowl. Once again, coat the pan with oil, only a little more liberally this time, and reduce to a medium heat.

Now throw in half of the leaks along with some salt, pepper and a bay leaf and fry until everything has turned soft, stirring regularly.

Repeat this process with the second batch of leeks. Add all of the cooked leeks to the mixing bowl and remove the bay leaves.

Next, mix all of the ingredients for the nut roast. Keep aside 150g (about a cupful) of cooked lentils for the lemon and parsley sauce, then add the remainder to the mixing bowl.

Keep aside about 50g of chopped nuts (for garnish) and add the rest of them to the mixing bowl. Now chop the fresh basil finely and put that in too.

After that, using a gentle touch, fold everything together and season it with salt and pepper. Transfer the mix to a suitable baking dish and smooth it down.

To garnish, take the leek and slice into thin rounds, but at an angle so that they are an oblong shape. Arrange them into lines on top of the bake and then drizzle all over them with a little olive oil.

Scatter the mixed and chopped nuts between the lines of the leeks and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the nut roast is baking, make a start on your parsley and lemon sauce. First of all, place the 150g of cooked lentils into a suitable bowl and add 200ml of vegetable stock or water and bouillon, the squeezed out flesh from the roasted garlic and a dash of olive oil (use the oil from the garlic roasting if available).

Use a stick blender to blend until smooth and then pass through a sieve (the finer, the better) to make for a smooth sauce.

Afterwards, add the lemon juice and the parsley and blend again. Season with salt and pepper, place in a small pot and bring to a low simmer, ready to spoon over each portion of the nut roast when you take it from the oven.

'Cornucopia at Home' is available from Cornucopia, 19 Wicklow Street, Dublin, (01) 677 7583.Check out talks on cornucopia.ie.

Irish Independent

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