Shelley’s recipes

Healthy family favourites from the Purchon household

Most comfort foods go heavy on carbs, but not this one. If you’re looking for a healthy yet indulgent comfort food to enjoy as the nights draw in, look no further.

Rich dairy products like crème fraiche and feta aren’t massively good for you, unless you count the calcium. But if they make you crave lentils and leeks can we agree to let them off? I hope so because this peculiar gratin is extremely more-ish and delicious. It has a crunchy top, a yielding middle and a multi-layered, savoury taste.

Russell and I loved this, the kids not so much, so the jury was out. Could I include it in this blog? Two reluctant friends agreed to try it. One of them disliked it on sight because it looked “disgustingly healthy”, and the other one hates lentils. They both changed their minds and said they would gladly eat it again.

Like everything in The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer, this is extremely easy, especially if you make use of pre-cooked lentils as she suggests. But did you know that lentils can be made even healthier by soaking them overnight and discarding the water? It reduces the phytate levels (phytate is the only anti-nutrient in this high-fibre cholesterol-busting food.) So perhaps it’s worth cooking them in advance after all?

Leek and Puy Lentil gratin with a crunchy feta topping

Serves 4 

preparation time: 10-15 minutes

cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed   
  • 500g leeks, washed and dried and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g vac-packed cooked Puy lentils (or 250g dried Puy lentils pre-cooked according to the packet instructions)
  • 450ml crème fraiche
  • 125g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 50g panko or fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees fan/ 200 degrees/ gas 6. Put the butter and garlic into a roasting tin and let it melt in the oven as you wash and slice the leeks.

Mix the leeks into the melted butter and season generously with salt and black pepper. Pop it back into the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes mix through all the other ingredients except the breadcrumbs and the olive oil, which are sprinkled and drizzled on top.

Serve the gratin warm with a side salad. It’s nice the next day too, heated through just a little.