This warm lentil bake is good any time of the year and ideal outdoors when the weather warms up and the evenings are longer. It is also an ideal vegetarian snack. Thyme is a great herb and adds beautiful flavour. Puy lentils are one of those tins I always have in the cupboard. The sherry vinegar gives a lovely tanginess while the feta adds a lovely, salty taste. Sometimes I use a courgette instead of an aubergine. They are coming into season. You might also like to add a can of chick peas to this salad.
I often mention our many excellent goat’s cheese producers in Ireland. It is always popular in the restaurant. It goes well with the fig relish. This puff pastry bake is an ideal recipe for lunch or supper with the crispy pastry, tangy relish and creamy goat’s cheese. Simply Better has recently added Roll It, a puff pastry made with all Irish butter to the range. It is produced by Mairead Finnegan from Crossakiel, Kells, Co Meath and it is a fabulous product.
Goat’s Cheese & Sticky Fig Relish Puffs
2 x 320g packets of puff pastry, thawed if frozen
350g fresh goat’s cheese, cut into 2cm slices
4 heaped tbsp sticky fig relish
2 tsp sesame seeds
For the salad:
50g pecan nuts
1 tbsp Highbank Orchard apple syrup or honey
a knob of butter
1 x 100g bag of watercress, rocket and spinach salad
100g vac-packed baby beetroot, cut into quarters
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Unroll one of the puff pastry sheets and cut it into quarters.
2 Divide the goat’s cheese slices between them, leaving a 2.5cm border around the edges, then add a heaped tablespoon of the sticky fig relish to each one of the slices.
3 Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a pinch of salt, then brush around the edges.
4 Unroll the second puff pastry sheet and cut it into quarters. Place a rectangle of puff pastry on top of the filling and carefully seal and crimp around the edges using a spoon. Score some lines on the top of each one and then brush with the rest of the egg wash.
5 Scatter over the sesame seeds and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 20 minutes to rest or this can be kept in the fridge or frozen.
6 Preheat the oven to 200°c (400°F/gas mark 6).
7 Bake the goat’s cheese puffs for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and looks puffed up and golden.
8 Cook the pecan nuts in a small baking tin alongside the goat’s cheese puffs for three to four minutes, until toasted.
9 Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the toasted pecan nuts, then drizzle over the apple syrup or honey and add the butter. Cook for a minute or two, until glazed and sticky. Tip out on to a piece of parchment paper and leave to cool.
10 Trim down the chicory and break into individual leaves, then gently toss in a bowl with the ?salad leaves.
11 Arrange on plates with the beetroot and drizzle over the oil and vinegar.
12 Scatter over the carmelised pecan nuts and then add a goat’s cheese and sticky fig relish puff to serve.
Sweet potato & aubergine puy lentil bake
1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
3 small onions, cut into wedges
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 x 400g tin of puy lentils, drained and rinsed
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
50g sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and cut into strips
2 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar
100g feta cheese
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
40g wild rocket
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 200°c (400°F/gas mark 6).
2 Tip the aubergine, sweet potato and onions into a large roasting tin. Sprinkle over the smoked paprika and season generously, then scatter over the thyme and drizzle with the oil. Using your hands, mix until everything is evenly combined.
3 Roast for 20 minutes.
4 Remove the roasting tin from the oven and fold in the lentils, cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes. Roast for another 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to break down and everything is piping hot.
5 Drizzle over the vinegar and crumble the feta cheese on top.
6 Scatter over the pine nuts and rocket, then serve the dish straight to the table.