Du puy lentils with beets, goat cheese and hazelnuts

‘Do you have something morally against carbs?’ This was a question posed to me on twitter the other day after I’d posted on instagram some of my meals. I’d originally been posting photos tagged as from a  ‘no carb prison’. Over time it’s softened to just a no carb place.

The fact is, I have nothing morally against carbs. Far from it. Nothing soothes my soul like a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, a plate of pasta; or, a hefty bowl of polenta that’s swimming with fish stew, perhaps eaten on a terrace in Dubrovnik.

But since I’ve been getting evangelical about pulses at home, I’ve never felt better (and the fact that one of my chin twins has gone into hibernation just in time for the photo shoot for the book next week is also a blessing). There’s nothing like the haunting spectre ISBN which will endure forever to motivate someone to shake up their diet a bit.

Carbs will always have a special place in my heart. It’s just that I’m realising my heart is big enough to supply similar amounts of love to pulses as well.

The latest of these to get some affection are du puy lentils.

Grown in the volcanic soils of Puy in France, du puy lentils are little, glistening green beads. They’re nutty and earthy. They hold their shape when cooked. They pair nicely with aggressive flavours like mustard, garlic, vinegar and lemon. And best of all, they don’t need pre soaking and cook in around 20 minutes (nb, be careful for cheaper imitations, they can fall to a pulpy papery mush when cooked. That’s not the effect you’re going for).

This warm salad takes takes advantage of the du puy lentil’s slightly funky flavour, matching it with similar minded friends. Warm nuggets of beetroot, fennel, both raw and cooked, hazelnuts and goats cheese are fun additions, though you could easily substitute roasted carrot or cherry tomatoes for the beets if they’re not your thing. If you were pushed for time you could leave off the cooked onion and fennel from the start of the recipe and just boil the lentils before tossing them with vegetables, nuts and cheese. But if you’ve got the inclination, it’s worth sauteeing them so they share some sweet flavourings across to the water  the lentils cook in.

The end result resembles a collection of precious stones; the deep garnet of the beets and emerald of the parsley glowing out against the craggy mass of pulses.

This is a bulky side that’s best served warm, with a crisp fillet of salmon over the top to make it into a full meal. Though it would also be grand as part of a spread of salads, as a base for sticky baked chicken drumsticks, or to tote in a tupperware for tomorrow’s lunch.

And heck, if the no carb place is still a bit of prison, at the very least it can be a bejewelled one.

Du puy lentils with beets, fennel, goat cheese and hazelnuts

Serves 4 with fish, or chicken  (or 2 hungry ones with some left over for lunch tomorrow)


1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 red onion, cut very thinly into half moons (using a mandolin can speed this up)
3 garlic cloves, cut very thinly
2 small bulbs of fennel, or 1 large one.
1 cup of du puy lentils
300 ml of water
2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
4 small roasted or boiled beetroot (250 grams), cut into small cubes
1 handful of flat leaf parsley, shredded
1 handful of hazelnuts, or walnuts, toasted
40 grams of hard goat cheese, or feta, crumbled

Here’s how we roll

1) Saute the red onion, garlic and half the fennel in the olive oil until translucent (around 10 minutes).

2) Add the lentils.

3) Add the water- the water should just cover the lentils. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are just cooked- be careful not to over cook the lentils- they want to tread the fine line between pliable, but avoid the terrain of mush. The water should have absorbed into the lentils. If there is too much liquid still in the pot, drain some out.

4) Muddle the lentils, onion and fennel together the red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Toss through the warm lentils.

5) Add beetroot cubes, rest of the diced fennel and parsley.

6) Top the lentils with the toasted nuts and crumbled cheese.

7) Serve at room temperature with grilled salmon steaks, or chicken pieces, or as part of a bbq spread.


  1. Love pulses, but eat carbs too. I have found a similar reaction to putting up posts about gluten free recipes, I just like orange and polenta cake, doesn’t mean I am off the toast and vegemite.

  2. If you were trying to make me salivate, you managed, as much as I am carb crazy.

  3. Oh, and regarding the getting evangelical about pulses, I have a post coming up real soon about a pretty different way (for me at least) to eat them.

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