Quick, spicy lentils
The problem with lentils is that they’re boringly brown. But that’s their only defect. Otherwise they’re tasty, cheap*, warming and healthy - in other words perfect student food for this time of year. They also go really well with other budget foods such as bacon, sausages and pork chops - or with greens or rice if you’re a veggie. Here’s how to rustle up a batch
Time: 12-15 minutes
Cost: £1-£1.50 a head
3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
3 rashers bacon or a few slices of chorizo, snipped small (can be left out if you're veggie)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp paprika or smoked pimenton
1/4 tsp ground cumin (not essential - if you have some)
1 can of brown or green lentils, drained and rinsed
1/2 a small tin of carrots, drained and roughly chopped
A couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley or coriander (optional)
Heat the oil in a frying pan or medium-sized saucepan, add the bacon or chorizo and fry for a couple of minutes until the fat starts to run. Add the onion, cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the crushed garlic, paprika and cumin, if using and cook for a minute then tip in the lentils and carrots and stir. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir through some chopped parsley or coriander if you have some.
* They used to be even cheaper but the price of pulses has shot up in the past year. They’re still good value though.
* Store the rest of the carrots in a plastic box in the fridge and reheat in a little butter or soy spread.
A better though longer version
You would get a slightly better result with uncooked lentils but would have to add more water and cook them for longer. You could also add a chopped fresh carrot at the same time as you cook the onion instead of using tinned ones which would give the dish a better texture. And if you had some celery you could add a stick of that too.