Thanks to a rather kooky cooking method and some unexpected toppings, these lentils' flavor is ratcheted up inside and out, so they become a hotly-anticipated meal unto themselves. Adapted slightly from A Modern Way to Cook (Fourth Estate, 2015). For the whole story, head here. —Genius Recipes
For the lentils
1 1/2 cups (300g) Puy lentils, washed
4 cloves unpeeled garlic
1 small plum or beefsteak tomato
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of vegetable stock powder, or 1/2 a stock cube (optional)
Heat the oven to 425° F (220° C). Fill and boil a kettle with water and get all your ingredients together. You’ll need a big pot for your lentils.
Put the lentils into the pan with the unpeeled garlic, whole tomato, a few sprigs of the thyme, the bay leaves, and the stock powder or cube, if using. Cover with 1 quart (1 liter) of hot water, place on medium heat bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down. Simmer and blip away for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the water has mostly evaporated. If they are looking too dry, top off with a little more boiling water from the kettle.
Meanwhile, roast the tomatoes. Cut them in half and put them cut-side-up on a rimmed baking sheet with some salt, pepper, and the zest of the lemon. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and put into the oven to roast and set a timer for 15 minutes.
Next, on another baking sheet, mix the breadcrumbs with the thyme and roughly chopped garlic and drizzle with oil. Season with a little salt and pepper and set aside.
Mix the horseradish with the cottage cheese and set aside.
Once the tomatoes have had 15 minutes, put the pan of breadcrumbs into the oven and cook both for 5 minutes more, till the breadcrumbs are browned and crispy and the tomatoes are softened and sticky.
By now the lentils should be cooked and all the water should have evaporated, so scoop out the tomato and the garlic and put them in a bowl. Once cool enough to handle, pop the garlic and tomato out of their skins and use a fork to mash them to a paste. Stir this paste back through the lentils. Taste, season with salt and pepper, then dress with a generous glug of olive oil and splash of red wine vinegar.
Serve in deep bowls—a generous ladle of lentils topped with the tomatoes, horseradish sauce and finally a scattering of breadcrumbs.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.