I tested Molly Baz’s Marinated Lentils with Spiced Walnuts & Basil (p. 91 in her cookbook Cook This Book ). I’ve been trying to eat more lentils lately, and I’m telling you—Molly Baz’s Marinated Lentils with Spiced Walnuts & Basil is my new favourite way to do it. I’m a big fan of Molly’s cooking. I purchased her cookbook when it came out, saw this recipe and was excited to try it, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how much I’d love the dish! Sometimes, you want to make something that’s just a little bit out of the ordinary. It’s the perfect recipe for any night where you’re looking for something different: the flavours are unusual yet delicious, especially the following day when they’ve had time to meld together.
This recipe is a little unusual—and I use the term “a little” very loosely here. But it’s also delicious, and if you’re willing to give it a shot, I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did. If you’re not convinced yet, let me tell you about the flavours: The lentils are rich and earthy, with just a hint of sweetness from the raisins. The feta is tangy and creamy, but also has a little bit of bite that really brings out the flavour of your lentils. And then—the next day? Oh man. This is where this recipe really shines! After being refrigerated overnight, the texture of both ingredients becomes even more complex: The lentils have keep their texture and they’ve also soaked up all the flavours from the spices; while the cheese has hardened slightly, taking on the walnut oil flavour that makes it taste like it was aged in some fancy cave somewhere (but without all that pesky aging process). It’s so good! In conclusion: try this recipe at least once.
I was nervous about combining lentils and cheese—I’m not a fan of the feta you find in North America in general, so it seemed like an odd pairing to me. But the combination of flavours was memorable. If you’re looking for a recipe that will surprise your taste buds while still feeling familiar and comforting (and even healthy!), Molly Baz’s Marinated Lentils with Spiced Walnuts & Basil is the one for you. You won’t regret it!
✰✰✰✰✰ star TRY because it’s delicious.
Molly Baz’s Marinated Lentils with Spiced Walnuts and Basil
- Rubber spatula
- Saucier Pan
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1 4-oz/113-g block feta cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups black beluga lentils or French green lentils a.k.a. lentilles du Puy
- 1 cup raw walnuts substitute with almonds or pecans
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup red or white wine vinegar
Cook the lentils:
- Bring a medium saucepan filled with 2 quarts (1.9 L) water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil.
- Add 1 1/2 cups black beluga lentils, give them a good stir and return the water to a simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a simmer while they cook. Simmer until they are cooked through and no longer toothsome but not mushy, 15 to 35 minutes, depending on what type of lentils you have and how old they are. Taste them periodically to evaluate their doneness before draining them.
- Drain the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer and let them cool in the strainer while you prepare the walnut dressing. Reserve the saucepan.
Make the spiced walnut oil:
- Coarsely chop 1 cup walnuts.
- In the reserved saucepan, combine 1/2 cup olive oil and the chopped walnuts and cook over medium-low heat, swirling the pan often so that they cook evenly, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as they can turn from toasty to burnt pretty quickly. Remove from the heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon cumin seeds and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander and stir to combine. Using a Microplane, immediately grate 3 garlic cloves into the still-hot oil; stir to combine.
- Stir in 1/3 cup golden raisins, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt.
Dress the lentils:
- Add the drained lentils back to the medium saucepan with the walnut mixture and gently stir everything to combine.
- Thinly slice 1 (4-oz/113-g) block of feta into large 1/4-inch-thick planks.
- Tear 1 1/2 cups basil leaves in half, or into small pieces if large, and toss them through the lentils. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Divide the lentils among 4 serving bowls. Top each with a few feta planks and black pepper and drizzle with more olive oil.