Smoky lentil stew with feta lemon curd

This is the kind of warm and hearty dinner that should be achievable, almost, from an empty fridge. It may be a depressing thought, but one that is incredibly consoling in times of need. A dinner where you could have got in from the airport, feeling cold and exhausted and into and even colder house, and can get straight to cooking from having a few good kitchen staples stocked in the cupboards - packets of lentils, jars of sundried tomatoes, dried herbs and spices, stock, passata and tomato paste. Its also something you can put together with great ease, making the base then everything into a pot, lid on, bath running and a glass of red wine poured. These dreary early months of the year scream for dinners like these. Healthy and comforting, slightly on a budget and also being mindful to cut back on your meat intake. We could have added smoked bacon, pancetta or chorizo cut into cubes, anything cured or smoked adds depth, but we quite like not eating meat all the time. Lentils are a great source of protein, also a good source of dietary fibre and iron, bringing a sort of earthiness to dishes which lends itself well to the more woodier herbs used. This dish really is quite delicious, scotch bonnets giving a different twist from the usual chillies, a distinctive warm, sweet taste and the feta lemon curd brings it all to life. This really is all you need for an evening in, we would recommend making more then enough and freezing in batches for easy go to dinners.


    2 onions, diced

    2 celery sticks, finely chopped

    1 fennel, diced

    2 carrot, roughly chopped (nice to keep rustic)

    4 garlic cloves, pressed

    3 bay leaves

    Small bunch of thyme, chopped

    Sun dried tomatoes

    1 scotch bonnet, finely chopped

    1 tsp dried oregano

    200ml white wine

    2 tbsp tomato paste

    1 tsp smoked paprika

    500g Passata

    300g Puy lentils

    850 ml stock (chicken or vegetable)

    1 tsp sugar

    Big bunch of winter greens- cavalo nero or kale are good, roughly chopped



    150g Feta

    3 tbsp Yoghurt

    Lemon zest

    ½ lemon juice

    1 tbsp olive oil



1.     Heat a medium sized pot with olive oil and sauté your onions over a medium-low heat, with the chopped celery, fennel, carrot, thyme and bay. Sweat down slowly for 20 minutes, making sure not to burn, you want them to be sweet and caramelised. Then add the pressed garlic and chopped scotch bonnet. Keep stirring and raise the heat.

2.     Add the remaining ingredients, barre the greens, put the lid a jar and turn down when it hits boiling point- simmer for 30 minutes. Season well.

3.     Add your chopped winter greens, allow to wilt and then take off the heat.

4.     Mash the feta in a bowl with a fork, until its completely mashed (or do this in a blender to make sure smooth), then add the yoghurt and mix well, add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice. Season well.

5.     Spoon your feta mix on top a bowl of hot lentil stew with a good pinch of chopped tarragon.