I love my job - especially on days when I get to photograph (and eat) things like this! This is a recipe I developed for Fairfax and it is exactly the kind of thing I love to cook at home - the combination of earthy lentils, sweet onions, figs and beetroot with salty feta, cumin-spiced grilled lamb and a zingy herb dressing...phwoar!
Hands up who else can't believe it's just about Easter - where on earth has the beginning of the year gone? Dammit, I need to sit down and look over those grand goals I set myself over Christmas, I think I need to start the year again. I can't wait for the autumn break (New Zealand remember :) ), it's my absolute favourite time of year with cool nights, crisp mornings and warmish days - perfect for Easter at Waiheke, and extra specially good with Henry and Josh coming up for a few days to join Nick, Rich and I - and Lil too - hurrah! Nick and I spent last Saturday night on the island celebrating our 10 billionth wedding anniversary (25 years!!!) and it was perfect. The nets are still on the grapes, but they should be ready for picking before too long, then the leaves will put on their fabulous autumn show. Now that we have a proper outdoor fire (kind of like a log-burner instead of our brazier) we will be able to snuggle up around that, watch the stars come out, drink red wine and take turns deciding who is in charge of the music on the stereo...
12 small beetroot
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp sugar
1 cup onion jam store bought or see here for the recipe
2 1/2 cups puy lentils
2 bay leaves
18-24 lamb cutlets (depending on whether you serve 3 or 4 per person)
5 cups baby spinach leaves
250g feta, roughly crumbled
4 fresh figs (optional)
½ cup dukkah or lightly toasted pinenuts
1 cup torn mint leaves
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup coriander leaves
finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
Preheat oven to 200˚C and line a roasting dish with tinfoil. In the middle, put beetroot, then drizzle over 1 tablespoon each of the olive oil and vinegar, and sprinkle over 1 tsp cumin, sugar, sea salt and pepper. Fold the tinfoil up around them and fold over the top to create a sealed parcel. Roast for 45-60 minutes (depending on how small your beets are) until they can easily be pierced with the tip of a knife. Lift out beetroot and tinfoil and put aside to cool for 10 minutes. Once beetroot are cool enough to handle use a small paring knife to cut off the tops and peel the outer skin. Put lentils, cumin and bay leaf in a pot and cover with at least 5 centimetres of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until just tender. Drain well, put in a bowl and stir through remaining olive oil and vinegar, onion jam, sea salt and pepper to taste, and put to one side.
Heat a grill hot plate or the barbecue and cook cutlets for 2-3 minutes on each side (depending on thickness). Remove from the pan and cover with tinfoil to rest for 5 minutes. While the lamb is resting cut the beetroot into wedges. Put yoghurt, 1 cup of coriander leaves, ½ cup mint leaves, lemon zest, juice, garlic and last teaspoon of cumin into a food processor and whiz to combine.
To serve - layer spinach and lentils onto a large serving plate. Top with beetroot, feta, remaining coriander and mint, and arrange cutlets alongside. Drizzle with dressing and finish with a sprinkling of dukkah or pine nuts. Serves 6