warm puy lentils w/ spiced cavolo nero {gluten-free + vegan}

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I did something the other day, that I’ve never before been able to do… I did a proper cartwheel! Whipdy-woo you say, but hear me out. I’ve always been the near six-foot girl who doesn’t have the upper body strength to hold her rather large frame. Chin ups ain’t ever happened, handstands in yoga? Well, lets just say it’s something I’ve always tried my best to avoid. As a kid I always wanted to be able to do cartwheels like all my (smaller) friends, but every time I tried I kinda just looked like this. Rather than trying and trying until I mastered it, for 33 years of my life I just put it in the ‘can’t do it, so won’t even try’ basket. Until the other day that is.

My daughter has her fathers athletic in-proportion body shape, is naturally strong as hell and super flexi to boot. She attends acrobatics classes and could do cartwheels in her sleep, the lucky thing. We were out playing in the backyard the other day when she asked if we could have a running race. She ever-so-kindly offered to let me have a head start! Ha! I found it funny that she really thought I was crap at sprints, but then, I have always told her I can’t to cartwheels so I guess she just assumed I also couldn’t sprint. I told her I didn’t need a head start and went on to whip her little butt more than once. Rather than be mad or get upset at losing, she looked up to me in a way I don’t often see. She was so proud of her mum! Puffed up from the ego boost I thought how about I really pull out all the stops and impress my little Miss eight-year-old and attempted a cartwheel for the first time in about 25 years! 

Much to both mine and Ada’s surprise I did a proper cartwheel right on the first attempt! I think she was as shocked as I! So I did it again, and again. And even though the others were never as good as the first, they were still the best damn cartwheels I’ve ever done! And in the eyes of my little Miss, I had become one of the coolest people around. Sadly this view didn’t last all that long, but I saw it in her eyes for a moment and that there is priceless.

There’s kinda no moral to my random story today, I don’t think. But I can’t tell you how freeing it was to do something (even as small an insignificant as a cartwheel!) that I’ve spent my whole life believing I can’t do. Maybe the same could be said for these here spiced lentils… if you’re one of those people who swear they hate lentils, maybe today is the day to challenge that?
As for me, I’m off to practise mastering the splits… yeah right πŸ™‚
NEWS! The lovely ladies at I Quit Sugar are giving away three copies of my cookbook to some lucky Australian readers! You can also grab the recipe for my kumara + kale latkes with poached eggs (from the book!) over on their site today. 

Spiced lentils with chilli garlic cavolo nero
Proper Le Puy lentils are sometimes hard to come by in this part of the world and are really pricey if you do. However we are super lucky here in Australia (and New Zealand) to be able to buy the next best thing… puy-style or French-style lentils grown right here in Australia. I imagine Beluga lentils would also work here, or just use regular brown lentils if you don’t mind them breaking up and going a little mushy. Cavolo nero, otherwise known as Black cabbage/Tuscan kale/Lacinato kale can be found at some vege stores and most farmers markets. However, regular curly/Scotts kale could easily be used in it’s place. Silverbeet (chard) or spinach would also be great alternatives (just lessen the cooking time for spinach!).
Serves 3-4 or more as a side


1 cup (200g) puy-style lentils, soaked overnight in cold water, rinsed and drained
the juice of 1 medium lemon
a few good glugs of extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan then ground finely
a good handful of coriander, leaves + soft stems, roughly chopped
sea salt + black pepper, to taste

1 bunch cavolo nero, hard stems removed, leaves left whole or roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (I used half/half yellow and black, use whatever)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies, split in half (or use fresh if you have them)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
a good handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

Place soaked lentils in a medium saucepan, cover well with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-25 minutes until just tender (this time will vary depending on the freshness of the lentils, so check after 10-12 minutes). Remove from the heat and drain well. Stir through lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, coriander and season well.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and chilli and cook for 20 seconds or until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add garlic and stir a few times before adding in the cavolo nero leaves, ground coriander and garam masala. Give it all a good stir, then add a good splash or two of cold (filtered) water, pop on a lid and let it steam for about a minute. Add tomatoes, cover and cook for a further 30 seconds until they are softened slightly. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper.

Serve the cavolo nero over the spiced lentils, either as a main or as part of a larger meal. You might like to serve with extra lemon wedges to squeeze over too, if you’re a lemon fiend like me!

Adapted from Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast by Anjum Anand.

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Millie | Add A Little
    August 19, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Love this! Looks so delicious!

    http://youtube.com/addalittlefood

  • Reply
    Madeleine BS
    August 19, 2014 at 9:22 am

    yummy yummy yummy I am so going to make this asap!!! Never get tired of your recipes. Mx

  • Reply
    Madeleine BS
    August 19, 2014 at 9:25 am

    ps would you be able to add a pin this button to your posts so I never lose a post again mx

    • Reply
      emma
      August 19, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Done! It's something I've been meaning to figure out how to do, so thanks for the push πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      emma
      August 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      …..forgot to say. Just hover over whichever photo you want to pin and the button will show up xx

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    August 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    This salad is stunning! Love the fun flavours in here πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    InTolerant Chef
    August 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    This looks so yummy! I'm 5ft1 and I can't do a cartwheel either, I'm glad you found your acrobatic mojo πŸ™‚ I really envy those people who can do flips!

    • Reply
      emma
      August 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Haha, I probably still looked ridiculous, but it felt great! P.s Can't do flips either, unless I'm in the water!

  • Reply
    Dixya
    August 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    yayy for being able to do cartwheels, i cant do that..ever. i was wondering the same thing as Madeline if you could have a pin it button please. i love lentils a lot but never had it with kale, sounds delicious.

    • Reply
      emma
      August 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      I've just installed a pin it button! Just hover over the image xx

  • Reply
    Cook Sophie Cook
    August 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    This made me laugh – I can't cartwheel or do the splits either… My boyfriend sprained his finger tonight after I tried to show him a yoga move… So. l will stay in the kitchen for now πŸ™‚ perfect dinner for this weather!

  • Reply
    Catherine
    August 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Congrats on the cartwheels! I am another one of those tall ones who could never quite get them to work as a kid–now I'm wondering if I would have more success as an adult! And I love the look of this dish, lentils and greens are a favorite combination of mine!

  • Reply
    london bakes
    August 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I've never been able to do a cartwheel so I'm super impressed (and quite tempted to go and find a patch of grass to try on now!)

  • Reply
    Carol
    August 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Beautiful story and recipe, here's to many more cartwheels! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Eileen
    August 19, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Ooh, this sounds like such a perfect dinner! You have to love spicy, savory greens and lentils. Yay!

  • Reply
    Jasmine Ann
    August 19, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I've never been able to do cartwheels either! I can imagine your daughters face and how easily you became her champion, if for a moment. You'll cherish that moment. See you in Perth soon. I will be expecting cartwheels lessons followed by this for lunch πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Kate
    August 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    This is so sweet. Yay for cartwheels! My husband has just taught himself to walk on his hands so I feel entirely inferior, but everyone has their strengths and weaknesses πŸ™‚ ps lentils forever, love them

  • Reply
    Teffy Perk
    August 24, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Mmnm looks so so yummy!! Like one of those dishes that'll see you safely into autumn!

    {Teffy's Perks} X

  • Reply
    Elisabeth
    August 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    We have some rainbow chard in the garden that we forgot about. I'm thinking this recipe would be a lovely way to use them! I'm not athletic either, but have taken up yoga again, which has done wonders for how I move and feel.

  • Reply
    Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today
    August 26, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    This is a cool story and now I'll go to my desk and make a list of things that I should improve to be my little girl's hero πŸ™‚ Such a lovely post and the recipe – obviously awesome.

  • Reply
    Erika Surmi
    September 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I love your cartwheel story! Reminds me of when I tried doing one in a gymnastics class! And this salad looks heavenly. http://www.therootblog.com

  • Reply
    Bec
    September 3, 2014 at 11:45 am

    A dream meal with some of my favourite ingredients. Delicious as per usual. Bec
    http://www.dancingthroughsunday.com.au

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