Black lentil & mung bean courgetti salad, with middle eastern spice

I can’t believe that it’s only very recently that I discovered black (or beluga) lentils! These guys are less common than other varieties such as split red and puy (both Lonely Lentil favourites!). The name is owed to a resemblance to Beluga caviar.

I love cooking with this wonderful ingredient… they hold their shape and texture once cooked and also absorb flavour beautifully. These characteristics make them perfect for making salads/batch recipes for eating cold for lunches etc.

It’s no secret that I ADORE my spices! The middle eastern spice pantry is definitely among my favourites! I created this yummy salad bursting full of flavour and texture after being inspired by the many wonderful delights in celebrity cook Sabrina Ghayour’s books. If you haven’t yet discovered her genius then I highly recommend you get ‘googling’ asap (and then get ready to make book purchases shortly after!).

Ingredients:

• 1/3 cup (around 80g-100g) black/beluga lentils

• 1/3 cup (around 80g-100g) mung beans (pre-soaked for at least 6 hours- immerse in cold water with a splash of cider vinegar)

• ½ large or 1 small/medium courgette, spiralised (A.K.A ‘courgetti’)

• Olive oil

• 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

• 3-4 fat garlic cloves or 3 heaped tsp garlic paste

• 2 tsp turmeric powder

• 2 tsp ground cumin

• 1 tsp ground cinnamon

• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of ½

• A generous handful of pumpkin seeds

• Sea salt & black pepper

• 1 heaped tbsp. dried chives (plus extra for sprinkling)

• 1/2 tbsp dried mint

• chilli flakes to taste (optional)

Method:

  1. First job: pre-cook the mung beans and lentils.

• Drain the mung beans of the soaking water and rinse thoroughly. Place into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for around 20 minutes or until tender. Drain once cooked.

• The lentils do not require soaking, however they do need to be thoroughly rinsed with cold water before cooking. After rinsing, place in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for around 25 minutes or until tender. Drain once cooked.

• Combine the beans and lentils in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

  1. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive in a frying pan. Add the cumin seeds and fry gently until they begin to pop and sizzle. Add the garlic and stir well, cooking for a further 1-2 minutes.
  2. Now add the rest of the dry spices and chilli flakes if using (NOT the herbs yet) and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir the mixture frequently and be careful not to burn the spices (add a little more oil if things are looking too dry).
  3. Add the courgetti to the pan and stir very well to evenly coat with the spice mixture. Place a lid on the pan and allow the contents to steam for 1-2 minutes, softening the courgetti ribbons.
  4. Remove the lid from the pan and stir well. Now empty the contents of the pan into the bean/lentil mixture. Add the lemon juice, dried herbs and season generously with the sea salt and black pepper (have a taste to check seasoning levels… if you are like me, you may decide to add more chilli flakes at this stage!). You may also like to add another drizzle of olive oil to the salad now too.
  5. Give everything a really good mix (I find the easiest way is to use your hands, if you really want to get the courgetti perfectly coated into the wonderful spice!)
  6. Finally, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top for a beautiful crunch. I like to add another sprinkling of chives at this point too (you can never have too many chives in my view!).