There’s a time and a place for fine dining. Tablecloths ironed to within an inch of their life and place settings for 17 courses, are all well and good, but you can’t beat a bit of rustic cooking. French food is known the world over for its lofty pretensions, but it’s the rural side of their cooking that we love the most. This dish is inspired by the cassoulets of the South of France. Hearty, wholesome and perfect for a chilly night.
Red Split Lentils
Vegetable Stock Pot
Flat Leaf Parsley
Self Raising Flour
Boil a medium-sized pot of water in preparation for your pearl barley. Rinse your red lentils thoroughly. Peel and finely chop half the onion and the carrot. Finely chop the celery and roughly chop the chestnut mushrooms.
Cook the pearl barley in the boiling water with ¼ tsp of salt for around 20-25 mins, or until soft enough to eat. Once the pearl barley is ready, drain it, rinse it thoroughly and keep it to the side.
Cook off the onions, carrot and celery in a non-stick saucepan on medium heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season with ¼ tsp of salt and cook for around 5 mins to soften the ingredients
Add in the rosemary and thyme sprigs along with the bay leaf and tomato purée and cook for a few mins before adding the lentils, mushrooms, half the stock pot and 400ml of water. Drain and rinse the butterbeans and add to the pan, then bring to a simmer and bubble away for 15 mins.
Chop the parsley finely and mix half of this into the flour and suet with 1/4 tsp of salt. Gradually add in 2-3 tbsp of warm water and mix with your hands until you have a nice soft (yet fairly dry) dough.
Form your dough into small golf ball sized dumplings. Take the lid off the cassoulet and add the rest of your parsley. Strain your pearl barley and add this to the pan too. Stir, then gently add your dumplings to the pan. Cook for 10 mins on low heat with the lid on.
Test the cassoulet for seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if you need to. Ladle it out and start tucking in!