Next week (May 11th to 19th) is National Vegetarian Week, so even if you are not a vegetarian you may be looking for easy meat free meal ideas. And this couldn't be much easier!
To make two generous servings you will need:
100g lentils - these are the small greenish "everyday" ones, but any whole lentil would do, as long as you use the cooking time given on the pack
1 small carrot
1 small onion
drizzle of chilli oil
about 120g halloumi cheese
oil for frying
Sweet chilli or Sriracha sauce to serve
Chop the carrot and onion very finely and place in a small pan with the lentils. Cover with about two fingers depth of cold water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender - 20 minutes for very fresh ones, a few minutes longer for older ones. Because slightly stale ones can take longer to cook, I like to do this part in advance as it's hard to be sure how long to allow. The lentils will reheat beautifully when it's time to dish up.
Keep an eye on the water level - by the time the lentils are cooked, you will be looking for most of it to have evaporated to give a texture similar to that of a creamy risotto. If they appear to be too dry before they are fully cooked, add a little boiling water. If they are tender but there is still rather a lot of liquid, remove the lid and boil hard to evaporate some of it.
Next, slice the cheese into four thin slices. Heat plenty oil in a frying pan - ideally it should come halfway up the sides of the cheese slices - and quickly fry them over a high heat until brown and slightly crispy on each side. Remove from the heat and blot off any excess oil on absorbent paper.
Taste the lentils and add salt and a dash of chilli oil - I was using a Portuguese one we brought back from holiday. It is fiery hot and I only needed a few drops, but if you have a milder one you may need a bit more according to your preference.
Divide the lentils between two plates, top with the cheese and then drizzle with sweet chilli or sriracha sauce. Again, this is a matter of taste as every sauce varies in heat and every diner likes a different amount of heat, but I used a home made one, made to this recipe, and found that a generous teaspoonful per person was exactly right.
I served this with tabbouleh and a salad of watercress, cherry tomatoes and roasted shallots.
I am linking this up to Food on Friday at Carole's Chatter