The sun has now been shining for the fifth day in row (a rarity here in Northern Ireland!), and feeling inspired by all the bright colours, I thought we'd give this lentil and root vegetable mash a try. As you can see, it looks lovely and bright and cheery, but does it taste that way too?
In this first post we'll make the mash itself, and in the next we'll cook up some simple spelt-flour flatbread to eat it with. The original recipe only calls for parsnip (and we know how good they taste!), but I see this as a perfect opportunity to cook some carrots too. (Fun fact: Carrots were purple in antiquity!) To make this recipe more accessible, we'll be leaving out 'fleabane', a daisy-like plant which is no longer used in cooking.
Lentil and Root Veg Mash
"Boil the lentils in a clean pan with some salt. In the mortar, crush some pepper, cumin, coriander seed, rue, and fleabane. Add vinegar, honey, liquamen, & defrutum. Mix this with the lentils. Cook and mash parsnips, and add to the lentils. When it is cooked, add some extra virgin olive oil and serve appropriately." - Apicius, 5.2.1
- 1 Parsnip
- 1 Carrot
- 100g Split Red Lentils
- 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 tsp Rue
- 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Liquamen
- 1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
- 1.5 tbsp Honey
- 3 tbsp Caroenum
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Add the lentils to a saucepan and pour in enough water to cover them. Throw in a pinch of salt, and bring to the boil. This will take approximately 20-30 minutes, and will require you to add more water every once in a while.
- Peel and chop up the carrot and parsnip, set them into a saucepan full of water, and bring to the boil.
- Whilst everything is boiling away, toast the various herbs and spices in a dry frying pan for around a minute, being careful not to burn them. Grind them all up together in a mortar and pestle.
- Once the lentils have turned to mush and the liquid has largely boiled away, add the spice mix and pour in the various liquids (except the oil). Stir it all together and let it simmer while you sort out the root vegetables.
- When the parsnips and carrots are cooked, drain the water from the pan and mash them up.
- Mix the lentils and root vegetables together with the tbsp of olive oil. Heat in the pan for a little while longer until the liquids have mostly evaporated. Serve and enjoy!
This mash makes for a remarkably filling meal - I had intended this recipe to serve just one, but it quickly became apparent that I would need help to finish it! Besides being filling, the dish was delicious. The lentils added a subtle, salty flavour to the meal, providing a wonderful backdrop to the sweetness of the parsnips and carrots. The sweetness of the root vegetables was further emphasised by the caroenum and honey, and the saltiness of the lentils by our friend the fish sauce. The dish was afforded some warmth by the cumin and coriander seeds, but rather amazingly, the stand out flavour and aroma came from the rue, despite so little being used. Final verdict? Filling and flavoursome - always a good combination.