Fried pears with roast red onions and crisped puy lentils
( SERVES 4 )
Photo by Andrew Montgomery
This colourful, early autumn salad, from River Cottage head chef Gill Meller, is so easy. "Sometimes all you need to make a lovely supper are three well matched ingredients," he says in his first cookbook, Gather. "Choose ripe pears, but not overripe, as you want them to fry in the hot pan without breaking up too much. My obsession with crispy lentils began at River Cottage, and I’m loving them lots right now. We must love them together, because they are just outrageously good, and here lend real crunch."
- Heat the oven to 180C. Put the rinsed lentils in a medium pan, cover with water and set over a high heat. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 18–25 minutes, until the lentils have softened but retain some bite. Drain them, then leave them in the colander and allow the steam to evaporate.
- Meanwhile, place the onion wedges in a roasting tray with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, toss to coat, and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Roast the onion in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the wedges are soft and starting to colour. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Slice each pear into quarters, remove the cores, then cut each quarter in half again, giving 16 wedges of pear altogether. Heat the butter and 1 Tbsp of the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter and oil mixture is bubbling, add the pear slices to the pan. Fry them gently for 3–5 minutes on each side, or until they have taken on a little colour. Remove the pear wedges from the pan and keep them warm.
- Leaving the frying pan on the hob, increase the heat to medium-high. Add the remaining oil, followed by the cooked lentils. Season with a little salt and pepper, and fry, tossing regularly, for 15–20 minutes, or until the lentils are crisped.
- Arrange the warm roast onions and pears on a large serving platter. Scatter over the lentils, drizzle over the lemon juice, and bring to the table straight away.
This recipe is an edited extract from Gather by Gill Meller, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $55, and available in stores nationwide. Also from Gather, try Gill's cobnut (hazelnut) and celeriac soup with kale, parsley and olive oil.