Ottolenghi's Lentils with Asparagus & Watercress (boosted!)
I'm just returning from ten days off the grid at Camp Grounded, a magical place where adults disconnect to reconnect. Ten days of play, music, deeply spiritual conversations, leaning into discomfort, great food, dancing, and commune with the California redwoods - what a blessing! Above this scene, the moon waxed until she reached a glorious fullness on the very last night - a fullness I too felt.
Back at home, I've been allowing myself to slip back into my tech-fueled reality slowly - sipping, not gulping; cooking meals for myself and going to bed early each night.
Here is a recipe I found in Ottolenghi's Plenty - one of the humble ones without a picture, filling only a half page. I made it as part of a private dinner for the recruiting team at Airbnb, choosing it for the watercress, which I am convinced will be the next kale (it's far more nutritious), and for the asparagus, which is nearing the end of its season. The next day, the leftovers (with a few boosts) made a complete meal - the simple, nutritious, one bowl kind I'm totally satisfied with these days.
Wash one cup of green lentils (I used de puy lentils) in fresh water and pick over for any small stones. Cover lentils in a small pot with water and bring to a boil, reducing heat to simmer and cooking for 15-25 minutes (time will depend on what type of lentils you use). They should hold their shape.
While the lentils cook, pulse 2 cups of watercress (big stems removed) with one big handful of parsley, a half cup or so of olive oil, a big swig of red wine or sherry vinegar, one garlic clove, and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper in a blender.
When lentils are done, drain them (don't rinse) and return to pot. Pour watercress dressing over the lentils while they're still hot and mix together.
Snap the woody ends off one bunch of asparagus and either sear them in a super hot pan or blanch them in boiling salted water (3-4 minutes tops).
Mix asparagus and 2 more cups of watercress into lentils. Salt to taste (you will need it).
This salad is wonderful with pecorino or manchego grated over it. I did so and also added a half cup of quick pickled shallots, some chopped toasted walnuts, and sliced avocado. A drizzle of walnut oil (if it's available) and a squeeze of lemon take it over the top.