Castelluccio lentils with oven-dried tomatoes and gorgonzola is a healthy and tasty recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. You can serve this salad as a side dish or on its own.
A few years ago, I took part in a cooking workshop with my friends at Creating for Good and the fab team at Taylors of Harrogate. Together, in the kitchen of a south London cooking school, we cooked a full lunch from starter to dessert.
The Castelluccio lentils with oven-dried tomatoes & gorgonzola were the side dish we prepared to accompany our main of Berbere spiced beef fillets.
This Castelluccio lentil salad is one of my favourite savoury recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi. I have made it many times over the past three years: for healthy meals with my husband or as a side dish during dinners with friends and parties at our house. The original recipe was featured in Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty, as well as in Share, which is a truly inspiring cookbook published by Women for Women International. Another recipe I love from this cookbook is the orange-scented Olive Oil Almond Cake.
I know you are probably thinking: what are Castelluccio lentils and where can I buy them? They are lentils from Umbria Italy and are favoured by Ottolenghi for their delicate flavour and don’t disintegrate in the cooking. If you can’t find Castelluccio lentils in your local shops, simply replace them with Puy lentils or green lentils.
What make this dish delicious are the nuttiness of the lentils, the sweetness of the red onions, the bold flavour of the balsamic vinegar, the juiciness of the tomatoes and the creaminess of the gorgonzola. If you don’t like strong cheeses like gorgonzola or blue cheese, you can replace it with grilled halloumi or fresh feta cheese.
This dish is easy to prepare, though it does require a little bit of time to prep. The tomatoes which are slow roasted in the oven at low temperature (130°C). I like to prepare this lentil salad a few hours before dinner time and serve it at room temperature.
For the oven-dried tomatoes
- 400g cherry tomatoes
- 8 thyme sprigs
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar
For the lentils
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
- 250g Castelluccio lentils (or Puy lentils)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 3 tbsp chopped chives
- 4 tbsp chopped dill
- 80g mild Gorgonzola, cut into rough chunks
- salt and pepper
Start by making the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 130°C. Cut the tomatoes in half vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 and 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.
Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the red wine vinegar and sprinkle with the salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes to soften the onion.
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 3cm above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and immediately combine with the sliced onion. Add the olive oil, garlic, salt and black pepper. Stir well and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the fresh herbs (leaving a handful aside). Gently mix together.
To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, add Gorgonzola (or your preferred cheese) and tomatoes. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining herbs on top.
More Recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi