Hippy bake?

If I see something called lentil bake on a cafe menu I’ll run normally run a mile. I imagine something dried up and brown and served by someone with lank hair falling off in to the food.

If you have prejudices like mine then think again! This is a luscious buttery lentil bake with courgettes and parmesan. It’s topped here with Gardeners’ Delight tomatoes and served with some blanched runner beans. This is comfort food and glut cookery all rolled in to one. We’ve got so many tomatoes, runner beans and (still) courgettes coming from the veg patch that we can’t keep up. This is a development of a recipe in Food From The Place Below. I now like to make the bake thinner so you get more cheese and tomatoes per slice. Also, I think that with something as potentially bland as lentils it’s important to measure the amount of salt you add. The original recipe featured leeks instead of courgettes. They’re both good, but courgettes are what we’ve got lots of at the moment.

At the cafes we’ll be serving it with our home-made roast pepper and chilli ketchup but at home if I need some ketchup I’ll reach for the Heinz.

(Incidentally and thinking of Heinz: we came home the other night having left the kids to feed themselves to find some incredibly delicious leftovers from their supper in a frying pan – Tudge’s smoked bacon, diced and fried and then mixed with a tin on Heinz Beans. So good that I was scraping the pan at midnight and then again with my breakfast cup of tea)

Anyway, back to Hippy Bake, here’s the recipe:

Serves 10 (re-heats very well if you don’t have 10 to serve)

500g red lentils
1 litre water
1/2 tsp salt

1kg courgettes, diced quite small
30ml olive oil

150ml white wine
175g butter
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
125 g grated cheddar
175g grated parmesan
3 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 lemon, juice of
1/4 bunch oregano finely chopped

500g cherry tomatoes, halved (or bigger tomatoes sliced)
100g parmesan, grated

1. Put the red lentils, measured water and salt in a pan with a lid and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer very slowly until the lentils are soft and there is no separate liquid left in the pan (it’s very easy to burn the bottom of the pan so go carefully with this)

2. Toss the diced courgettes in the olive oil and a little salt and spread on a baking tray. Roast in a hot oven for about 20 mins until just tender. (Alternatively you can fry them on a high heat)

3. Mix the rest of the ingredients (apart from the choped tomatoes and parmesan which will go on top) with the cooked lentils and the roast courgettes. Stir well and spoon into a baking dish measuring about 30cm x 40cm. Spread the mix out evenly and top with the second lot of parmesan and the halved cherry tomatoes.

4. Bake for about 40 mins at 170C until just set and browned on top.