It's that time of the year, isn't it? Neither winter nor spring. It's kind of getting warmer, but you still need your coat at times. It's kind of getting brighter earlier and darker later, but now and then the sky still threatens to rain and darken everything. On the food front, it's that time of the year when nothing's especially in season. The tender salad leaves aren't out yet, the winter roots are still here, but they're just going to leave soon, and nothing much is really new.
It's kind of easy to get bored, but thank god there is one "in-between' vegetable that's springing up at the farmer's market, the purple sprouting broccoli. They're gorgeous spindly stalks of broccoli with purple florets instead. I was just thinking to myself how nice it would be to get these instead of roses for valentine's day (I know I'm weird).
Spicy Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Fried Red Lentils
serves 2 as a side
handful of purple sprouting broccoli, broken to roughly even-sized florets
1 cup red split lentils
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
generous pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp ghee or grassfed butter
1. Soak lentils for about 20 min before cooking (to maximise digestibility, split lentils actually cook really quickly so you don't have to soak overnight unlike most pulses). Cook in boiling salted water for about 5-10 min, or until just tender but still retaining its shape. Drain.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and plunge the broccoli in, boil for about 2 min until just tender, and drain and refresh in cold water. Squeeze some lemon juice over for a bit of tang and to help it stay fresh.
3. Fry the chopped garlic in ghee till fragrant, then add the spices and chilli along with the cooked red lentils, and fry till slightly crispy. Season, and add the broccoli to warm through at the end.
Purple sprouting broccoli has a nice delicate taste despite being part of the cabbage family. The leafy stalks are also yummy so don't think it's rather a waste just because of the stalk:floret ratio. The savoury warm spices in the red lentils help to bring out the flavours, and I just find spice a welcome addition in this transition from winter soups to spring salads. To be frank though, it's also because the art student in me just can't resist putting the purple vegetable against the complementary bright yellow of the turmeric-stained lentils.
I'm also submitting this to Dom's Random Recipes Challenge. This month, we have to go back to the first cookbook we used to enter RR, and for me, that was just my folder of cutouts and copied recipes. This came from a cutout for making tarka dal by Madhur Jafffery , which looks delicious and creamy and er, nothing like the red lentils I made. I decided I was sick of soupy dishes, and I kind of decided to just give the whole slow-cooking and tempering thing a miss; but well, there are similar spices used, and it is still red lentils o.0