Dark green Puy lentils, grown in the south of France, have a unique, peppery flavour that is enhanced by chilli. They do not disintegrate during cooking and their texture is a perfect complement to the flakiness of fresh fish.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1–2 large mild red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
170 g Puy-style (dark green) lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups reduced-salt vegetable stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
juice of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 pieces of skinless white fish fillet or 4 fish steaks, about 150 g each
pepper to taste
lemon wedges to serve
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Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, celery, leeks and chillies, and cook gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils.
Add the vegetable stock, thyme and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. If at the end of this time the lentils have not absorbed all the stock, drain them (you can use the excess stock to make a soup).
Ten minutes before the lentils are ready, preheat the grill to medium. Mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Place the fish in the grill pan, skin-side up, season with pepper and brush with the oil mixture. Grill for 6–7 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. There is no need to turn the fish over.
Spread the lentils in a warmed serving dish and arrange the pieces of fish on top. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.
Lentils, which are small seeds from a variety of leguminous plants, are classified as pulses, but unlike other pulses they do not need to be soaked before cooking. Lentils are a good source of protein, starch, dietary fibre and B vitamins. Iron absorption from lentils is poor, but vitamin C-rich foods, such as the lemon juice in this recipe, can improve this process considerably.