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October 2021 Issue
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Fennel lentil pot

Photo: Isabelle Thompson

A simple and hearty one-pot meal utilising seasonal vegetables with nutritious and cheap pantry staples.

Fragrant fennel breathes life into the otherwise mundane marriage of pantry basics dried lentils and canned tomatoes. The aniseedy sharpness from fennel mellows out nicely when braised. Add dried black lentils – fibre and protein-packed morsels which readily absorb the flavours bubbling in the pot, hold their shape well and are reasonably fast-cooking.

Cost: $6
Serves 2-3
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins

Olive oil or butter
1 small onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, squashed and chopped
1 carrot, cut into quarter-round coins
1 tsp cumin
2 bay leaves (optional)
1 can tomatoes
100g dried black lentils
1 large fennel head, bulb finely diced
7 Brussels sprouts, chopped into wedges
Large handful of spinach or kale, shredded
Salt and pepper
Chilli flakes

To serve: feta or cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, stale pack bread


Heat 2tbsp oil in a medium-sized pot and when hot add onion, garlic, carrot, cumin, and bay leaves. Cook for 5min, stirring until the onion is almost golden. Add tomatoes, fill the can with water and pour in with the dried lentils. 

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 10min. 

Add the fennel and Brussels sprouts and cook for another 5-10min until the sprouts (and lentils) reach your desired tenderness. Turn off the heat and add spinach. Wait for it to wilt (if using kale it will need a couple of minutes on the heat to soften). Carefully fish out the bay leaves. 

Season generously with salt and pepper and chilli flakes. 

Finely slice the green fennel stalks and fronds and use as a garnish along with nuts and seeds (walnuts and almonds and pumpkin seeds are nice) and feta/cottage cheese/something tangy. 

A crusty piece of bread, if you have it, soaks up the soupy remnants of the meal.