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Georgina Hayden's Faki moutzentra: Cypriot slow-cooked lentils with spinach
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3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1½ tbsp tomato purée
275g green lentils, rinsed
50g long grain rice
50g short grain pudding rice
235g pack washed and ready to cook spinach, roughly chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt, plus extra, to taste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar, plus extra to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan and add the garlic and all the chopped vegetables. Sauté over a low heat for 12-15 minutes, until soft and sticky but not coloured. Stir in the tomato purée, cook for a couple of minutes then add the lentils. Stir everything together, then add 1½ litres boiling water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in the long and short grain rice, add a further 500ml of boiling water, so the lentils and rice are completely covered, and pop on the lid. Cook for a further 40 minutes, adding the spinach for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on the liquid, adding a splash more water if it becomes too dry – you’re looking for a thick, creamy texture.
3. Meanwhile, toast the cumin seeds for a couple of minutes in a small, dry frying pan, then lightly crush them in a pestle and mortar.
4. When the faki is ready, add the salt, some freshly ground black pepper and stir in 1 tbsp red wine vinegar – taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if needed. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and the crushed toasted cumin seeds. Delicious with a chopped salad on the side (it may sound odd but works wonderfully), or chunks of fresh bread.
Georgina's tipYou could also use frozen leaf spinach (cook until thoroughly defrosted and heated through), making this a real store cupboard recipe.
Typical values per serving:
1 of your 5 a day; source of protein.
This recipe was first published in March 2020.