Roasted Parsnips with Lentils, Zhoug and Spiced Prune

This dish, which is coincidentally vegan, contains a range of ingredients which help promote a healthy gut including dietary fibre in the vegetables and galacto-oligosaccharides (which gut bacteria love) in the lentils. Prunes are also useful for people who suffer from constipation as they contain both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre and a natural laxative called sorbitol.

Serves: 4

Cooking time and preparation time: 40 minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • 1kg parsnips, scrubbed.
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves chopped
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 120ml your choice of nut/plant milk alternative
  • 140g Puy lentils (or green lentils)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, skin on and flattened slightly
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 80g soft, pitted prunes, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • 3 tbsp boiling water

For the Zhoug:

  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely diced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp water
  • To finish: herbs such as micro parsley or purple sorrel

What To Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180oC/Gas mark 4. Roughly chop half of the parsnips. Place these on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, thyme and pepper and salt and mix well.  Cut the remaining parsnips into long neat sticks measuring 10cm long. Place these on a second baking sheet with a little olive oil, thyme and pepper and salt and mix well. Roast both trays of parsnips for between 15 and 20 minutes until they are soft and golden brown. Keep an eye on each tray as you may need to move the parsnips around to ensure they cook evenly.
  • Remove from the oven and blend the roughly chopped parsnips with your choice of nut/plant milk alternative to form a thick purée. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a warm place. Leave the other tray of parsnips as long sticks.
  • Meanwhile put the lentils in a pan with a litre of water, the bay leaves, garlic and thyme. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer the lentils for 15 minutes or until tender.  Drain and discard the herbs and garlic. Mix through the olive oil and parsley and season to taste.
  • Put the prunes, spices and water into the goblet of a blender and pulse to create a chunky paste. Season to taste with salt.
  • To make the Zhoug. Put all the ingredients into a blender. Blitz briefly for a few seconds to keep the dressing quite rough.
  • To serve the dish share the parsnip purée between four dishes. Add the lentils and prunes and then top with the roasted parsnip sticks. Drizzle with the zhoug and finish with the micro herbs.

Cooks tip: You can use a sachet of ready cooked Puy lentils to save time. This dish would also be delicious served with a light vinaigrette dressing containing chopped herbs such as parsley and dill.

Variation: Jerusalem artichokes or sweet potato can be used instead of parsnips in this recipe.

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