Fern Verrow is a biodynamic farm at the foothills of the Black Mountains in Herefordshire. Farmed by Jane Scotter and Harry Astley. Their book follows a year of growing and cooking, with seasonal, uncomplicated recipes.
The following recipe is the second in a three part series...
FENNEL, CELERY, AUBERGINE, LENTIL & FETA SALAD
Puy lentils, with their meaty texture and taste, work best in this salad. You can serve it warm, but it improves if left to cool, as all the flavours combine and infuse the oil. Be sure to make plenty; this salad is great for a packed lunch.
1 large aubergine
175g Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
100ml olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of 2 lemons
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cut into bite-sized slivers
30g fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
150g feta cheese
sea salt and black pepper
Cut the aubergine into roughly 2cm chunks and place in a colander. Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over them and then leave them be for about 30 minutes. Salt draws out moisture, and this is useful for extracting some of the bitterness aubergines can have.
Give the lentils a good rinse, then put them in a pan with the bay leaf, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until they are tender but still have a little bite to them. Strain through a sieve and set aside.
Pour half the olive oil into a large bowl, add the red onion, crushed garlic and lemon juice and zest and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the celery and fennel, mixing to coat them well in the dressing.
Put a large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and add the remaining oil. Pat the aubergine pieces dry with a paper towel, then add to the hot oil and fry until they are starting to char around the edges. Stir in the ginger, finely chopped garlic and ground cumin and cook for a minute or two longer. Add the lentils and heat through for a few moments. Season with a little salt and pepper, then add the mixture to the fennel and celery. Turn with a spoon to make sure everything is well coated, then leave to cool.
Just before serving, add the chopped parsley and crumble in the feta cheese. Gently fold everything together.
Recipe from book Fern Verrow - A year of recipes from a farm and its kitchen by Jane Scotter & Harry Astley. Photographs by Tessa Traeger.
You can now purchase the Fern Verrow book here