The Mediterranean Diet is my Kind of Diet - Hindbe and Lentil Soup

So I over indulged at Christmas. 
Am I going to detox? Diet? Survive on water and lemon, grapefruit or cabbage soup? Avoid food altogether and stop cooking?

I don’t think so. Eating lighter and more wholesome food is one way of giving my digestive system a rest.  What is healthier than the Mediterranean diet? 

Uncooked olive oil remains stable when heated and is perfect for our arteries. 

'Five vegetables' a day is only a broad guideline- the more the better.  

Pulses replace meat and leave you feeling virtuous. 

I am partial to lentils and in this case size does not matter, this tiny pulse has mega benefits. It is high on proteins and fibre, is versatile and adapts itself to many flavours. 

It is bank holiday, and I do not relish a trip to the supermarket. So I decide to use up the leeks, spinach, and Chanteray carrots in the fridge. I think a variation on Adas Bi Hamod a Lebanese soup with Swiss chard and coriander is just perfect on a cold day. I mix flat green lentils with Puy lentils; the latter cooks faster and adds creaminess to the mixture. I add spinach, coriander, season the lot with pepper and a touch of cayenne and finish off with a few drops of lemon juice. Yum!
I then go on to make another dish with braised dandelions  - hindbe.  This is a traditional, simple and moreish dish.  Ultra crisp half moon sliced onions bring texture and flavour. 

Hindbe grows wild and used to be available in late winter/spring; it is nowadays cultivated and available all year round.  The mature leaves are tough and a little bitter; but bitter is good. Kale, rocket, endives, radicchio, and chicory and are also bitter greens; they provide calcium and magnesium and are full of antioxidants. If you can’t get hold of dandelion leaves, I suggest replacing them with frisée lettuce also known as chicory or curly leaf endive.

Braised Hindbe

3 large frisée heads
3 medium onions
Olive oil
Salt pepper
1 lemon, quartered

Serves 6

Wash and trim the frisée lettuce. Lose the yellow leaves.

Peel and cut the onions in half, slice them thinly lengthwise. This will ensure that they keep their half-moon shape when cooked.

Heat some olive oil into a heavy based pan.  Make sure that the onions are well covered with oil when frying. Cook on high heat, stirring a few times, until the onions turn brown.
Lift with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil.

Pour the oil into a bowl and set aside.

Using the same pan, gently sauté the frisée lettuce with two to three tablespoons of the frying oil.
When the leaves are wilted and a darker green colour, add a tablespoon of water.
Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 15 to 20 minutes on medium to low heat.

Let it rest and serve at room temperature topped with the crispy onions.

Eat with bread with a squeeze of lemon.

crispy onions

Lentil and Spinach Soup

100 g large green lentils
100 g puy lentils
250 Chanteray carrots cut into rounds
2 leeks, chopped
300 g spinach
2 lemons, juiced
½ tablespoon crushed garlic
6 tablespoons, olive oil
40 g coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne,
Salt and black pepper
1 handful of vermicelli

Serves 6

Sauté, carrots and leeks with a little oil, place the lid on and leave to cook on low heat for about 6 minutes.
Rinse and drain the lentils and add to the vegetables. Cover with 1.2 litres of water and bring to the boil.
Simmer for approximately 40 minutes.
Add garlic and coriander.
Season with spices and add salt to taste.
Add vermicelli.
Add lemon juice.
Keep cooking for another 15 minutes.
Add spinach last as it does not need much cooking.
Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and recheck the seasoning.
Leave it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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