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Blackberry, fennel, lentil & mint salad
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125ml cider vinegar
100g granulated sugar
¼ tsp chilli flakes
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
½ tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
250g dried Puy lentils, rinsed
1 lemon, juice
1 large fennel
25g pack (or 10 sprigs) mint, leaves only
For the dressing
1 lemon, juice
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
4-5 tsp honey, or to taste
½ small garlic clove, grated to a purée
1. Put the cider vinegar, 100ml water and sugar into a small saucepan, and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Take the pan off the heat. Add the chilli flakes and onions. Leave to sit until the liquid is at room temperature, then add the blackberries. Cover and leave for an hour.
2. Heat the olive oil and sauté the shallots in a saucepan until they’re soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the lentils and enough water to cover them by about 4cm – about 700ml. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the lentils are tender, but still with a little bite. The time this takes depends on the age of the lentils. Check them after 15 minutes, and keep doing
so for up to 35 minutes. They can quickly go mushy.
3. For the dressing, mix all the ingredients together. Drain the lentils. Put them in a wide serving bowl and gently stir in half of the dressing. Season.
4. Put the lemon juice into a bowl big enough to hold the fennel. Trim the tips of the fennel and quarter the bulb. Remove the coarse outer layer if it’s discoloured. Cut the core out of each quarter, being careful not to remove so much that the quarters fall apart. Shave the fennel on a mandolin or use a very sharp knife. You need wafer-thin slices. As you slice the fennel drop it into the bowl with the lemon juice. The lemon juice stops it from discolouring.
5. Lift the fennel out of the lemon juice and add it to the lentils (leave the lemon juice behind). Tear the larger mint leaves and leave the small ones whole. Add them to the salad. Lift the onions and blackberries out of their liquid with a slotted spoon and add them to the bowl too. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing and serve.
Typical values per serving:
This recipe was first published in September 2020.