My grandfather was always the chief instigator of family picnics, and the sort of picnics he liked were very elaborate. They took a whole morning of preparation, only for us to drive to a car park and walk a couple of metres before rolling out the parade of Tupperware. There were always potatoes, lentils, herbs and greens, and, although today’s recipe wasn’t what we ate back then, it is an assembly of his favourite things. I wrote it especially for eating outdoors, whether in the garden, on a park bench or in a car park.
Potato and lentil salad with pistachio chimichurri
You’ll need a blender to make the chimichurri. If you can’t find jalapeños, use one green finger or rocket chilli instead (or leave them out altogether, if you prefer).
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr
500g cooked puy lentils (or 230g dried puy lentils)
600g new potatoes, washed and halved
2 large fennel bulbs (600g), trimmed and cut into 2cm wedges
2 red onions, peeled and cut into 2cm wedges
2 lemons, 1 cut into wedges, 1 juiced
8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp fine sea salt
50g picked flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 green jalapeño chillies, stems removed, flesh chopped
40g unsalted shelled pistachios
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. If you’re cooking the lentils from scratch, rinse them well, tip into a small saucepan for which you have a lid, and add enough cold water to cover by 2cm. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, put on the lid and simmer for 12 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but retain a little bite. Drain and leave to cool down in a sieve, so they don’t continue cooking.
Put the potatoes, fennel, onion, lemon wedges and six of the minced garlic cloves in a large roasting tray, pour over 75ml oil and sprinkle over a teaspoon of salt. Toss to coat everything, then roast for 50 minutes, until all the vegetables are looking bronzed, the potatoes are crunchy and the fennel is starting to crisp at the edges. Add the lentils, stir everything together, then return to the oven for five minutes, to warm the lentils through.
While the vegetables are roasting, whizz the parsley, the remaining two cloves of minced garlic, the chillies, pistachios, two tablespoons of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of salt and 75ml (or another five tablespoons) of oil to create a thick sauce, then leave this to marinate.
To serve, stir most of the chimichurri dressing into the hot vegetables and toss to coat. Turn out on to a platter or individual plates and top with a little more chimichurri.