This is a love letter to the Persian dish fesenjan’s delicious pomegranate and walnut sauce, here made with sprouted lentils and topped with crispy, caramelised onions.
Why sprout? Soaking and sprouting legumes increases digestibility and nutrient absorption and reduces antinutrient content. If you do not have time for sprouting, I recommend soaking the lentils for 24 hours before using them.
I have found lentils to be one of the best in terms of speedy and satisfying results with the majority of the lentils successfully sprouting after 2 days. Recommend giving it a try!
To sprout your lentils: –
- Soak the lentils for 24 hours
- Rinse very well, drain and put them into a large sieve / strainer / steamer basket standing above a bowl. Depending on the quantity, you may need 2 vessels so as not to layer the lentils too thickly.
- Rinse them off 2/3 times a day (I put my strainer next to the sink so that when I walk past i just give them a quick rinse)
- After 2 days there should be lots of white and green shoots sprouting from the lentils (as pictured)
Boil the lentils and use for stews, salads, soups, rice dishes and so forth. If you have an excess of lentils, they can also be frozen after boiling.
This stew is hearty and deep flavoured. Best eaten with saffron rice, some simple roasted pumpkin or butternut squash and a sharp green salad.
Serves 8 (or 4 and freeze half). Keeps very well in the fridge for a week.
850g of green lentils prepared as above
150g ground walnuts
150ml pomegranate molasses
1 large white onion or 2 leeks (white part)
1 rib of celery plus any leaves you have
2 cloves of garlic
1.5 litre of broth / stock or water
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
100ml olive oil
3 tsp sea salt
Caramelised onions – 3 large white onions thinly sliced, 100 ml olive oil or ghee
Freshly chopped parsley
A large casserole pot with a fitted lid.
Food processor or pestle and mortar
- Toast the walnuts lightly in a frying pan to release their aroma
- Grind the walnuts very finely in a food processor, blender or pestle and mortar.
- Finely dice 1 onion or 2 leeks, carrot, garlic and celery.
- Add approximately 100ml olive oil to the pot and add the diced vegetables and cook on a low heat until translucent (approx. 5 minutes)
- Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and combine well
- Add the lentils, 2 tsp salt, the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses and the broth / stock or water.
- Bring the pot to a simmer and then turn down to a simmer and cook for approximately 1 1/2 hours. if it looks a little dry top up with water / broth. You can also reduce at the end to your desired consistency.
The caramelised onions
- Thinly slice the onions
- Add the oil / butter to the pan followed by the onions and cook on a very low temperature until golden brown, with dark brown sticky bits. Drain well and set aside
Once the lentils are soft but not mushy (test them after 1 hour and then again after 30 minutes) they are ready. Taste for salt and add the 3rd teaspoon if needed
Prepare the rice if making, the salad or greens and serve with the lentils and lots of the caramelised onions on top. A little bit of tangy cheese like feta also goes very well if eating as more of a mezze.