Cook this: quick & healthy – lentils with pancetta & olives


I’m a bit OCD at times, in that I like to be organised when I can, particularly when it comes to food; I’m an emotional/boredom/binge/any-excuse-for-food eater, and if I don’t have a plan, I use that as an excuse to eat all of the foods. Having a weekly meal plan done in advance gives me the illusion that I’ve got my shit together; I rarely do, honestly. Anyway, it’s usually a Thursday night I sit down and look at the diary and start planning out next week’s meals, so I’m ready for the weekend’s grocery shopping. Last Thursday night I was in a bit of a daze; I’ve got a lot going on at the moment, and instead of slowing down and taking stock, I tend to just go twice as hard, preferring to distract myself rather than actually deal with stuff. Until I crash and burn, hopefully spectacularly. Then I’ll deal with it. Totally normal, right?!

So, I’m sitting there at the kitchen table, staring into space. Beyond that space was my bookshelves full of cook books. Feeling a little flat and uninspired, I wondered over to the shelves, and sat myself on the floor in front of them. Donna Hay called to me; I plucked her Fast, Fresh & Simple cookbook I got for Christmas a few years ago and started flicking through; fast, fresh and simple was exactly what I needed for some inspiration. A recipe caught my eye, probably because of the golden pink fried pancetta sitting next to it. I quickly scanned the recipe (ie looked at the picture), put the parts of it that I liked on the grocery list and added my own stuff because I can, and here’s what we ended up with for a very quick and relatively healthy dinner…

Ingredients (makes 2 serves):
– 1 small eggplants, diced
– 1 bunch broccolini, chopped
– 50g pancetta or bacon, roughly diced
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 2 tsp dried basil leaves
– olive oil
– 1 tin lentils, drained
– half a cup of red wine
– 3 tbsp black olives, pitted and sliced

1. Put the diced eggplant in a large bowl lined with paper towel, and sprinkle some salt over it (around 2 teaspoons worth) – set aside.

2. Boil a pot of water, throw the broccolini in when it’s at a strong boil. Leave them in there for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then drain and set aside.

3. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until it starts to get a little golden. Then add the garlic and basil, cook for anther minute, until you can really smell the garlic, then remove from the pan and set aside.


4. Squeeze the eggplant with the paper towel to take out any excess moisture, then drizzle a little more oil in the pan and add the eggplant. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or so, until the eggplant starts to shrink and brown.

5. Add the lentils and wine, turn the heat up to medium and simmer for a few minutes, until the lentils start to soak the wine up.

6. Throw the broccolini and pancetta into the pot, cook for another minute or two, until the broccolini heats up. Remove from the heat, mix in the olives, season with salt and pepper to your taste and serve warm. Enjoy  : )



3 thoughts on “Cook this: quick & healthy – lentils with pancetta & olives

  1. Oh man this looks great! I’m the same as you, I always know what I’m going to be eating days in advance. I once had a boyfriend who didn’t know what we would be having for dinner, an hour before dinner time. It used to drive me insane, especially as the shops shut so early here!

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