Happy New Year!
Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and fruitful 2012!
New year brings with it a fresh round of resolutions and a recommitment to healthy eating after all that festive indulgence. I’d like to shift the few pounds I’ve gained over the last fortnight but I’m in no particular hurry to dive into salads and raw veggies whilst I’m still in duvet and snuggly hoodie mode. I want comfort food that’s guilt free and tasty to warm and fill me up after I’ve been out in the driving rain playing with my shiny new running watch. I have five months to train for my first ever half marathon but my dedication to yummy food is not going to waver.
After Christmas there was most of a large head of celery waiting patiently for its chance to shine, lonely in my, quite frankly, empty salad draw. It’s crunchy green stalks were beckoning me, relief from the large box of chocolates on the table and a tub of clotted cream in the fridge, but crudités were not going to cut it. Not yet. What I want right now is the guilt-free, superfood stylings of salad but hot and filling. Bring on the braised veggies! Not a soup and not quite stew, this braised celery is gently simmered with onion, garlic, a touch of bacon (for flavour) and tomatoes until tender. It’s bulked out with classic New Year’s lentils that not only bring you good fortune in the coming year but are practically brimming with fibre and protein and apparently help lower cholesterol while keeping you full. Paired with some wholesome granary bread you have a very satisfying dinner on your hands and any leftovers get better since the flavours meld over night resulting in a tasty packed lunch or two for those gruelling first days back at work.
Braised celery with lentils
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 rashers of lean smoked bacon (optional)
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 350g celery, washed and cut into 5cm batons
- 1 tin plum tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tin brown lentils, rinsed and drained
- salt and pepper
- fresh parsley to serve
In a medium pan heat the oil. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until brown.
Turn down the heat and add the onion, garlic and celery. Stir and cover with a lid. Cook until the onions start to soften and turn translucent. Add a splash of water if things are sticking.
Pour in the tomatoes and crush them roughly with your hand or the back of a spoon. Add the thyme and bay leaf, bring to a boil then turn down to low and simmer gently, covered for about 30 minutes until the celery is starting to get soft.
Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lentils. Add a splash more water if you think it looks too dry. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t think it required any salt as the bacon and tomatoes contained enough.
Simmer for another 15 minutes then serve with a sprinkling of parsley to freshen things up a bit.