Dirty Feeds Done Dirt Cheap

I love getting stuff in the mail. It takes me back to my boarding school days when a random package of goodies would arrive from home. My school buddies from the country got regular doses of ‘tuck’ sent from the homestead, but every so often I would get a parcel too. Don’t feel too sorry for me, I spent my school hols at the table in my dad’s restaurant scoffing chocolate souffle! So the delight of getting a box of goodness or a padded parcel is my kind of party. Better a padded parcel than a padded cell, eh?!
Yep, feel free to send us stuff, we lerve testing new products – and if they’re super special like these just in from Dirty Inc, then we might just have to create a brand new recipe on the spot like this one!

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I’m not sure how I found out about Dirty Inc., but I know I was very keen to try their puy lentils as they are one of my favourite foods. I eat mostly Paleo these days yet every so often I crave the full, clean feeling from a hearty vegetarian meal. I am going to have a mini cleanse based around vital vegetarian ingredients for a few days while I slip back into fitness mode, so these tiny steely-indigo jewels of the legume crown are my new best friends! Puy lentils are so special as they don’t really need soaking (I don’t), they don’t turn into a soft mushy dhal – and they keep their texture and shape once cooked, which is 25 easy minutes. Love that bit.

Puy lentils are revered in French cuisine – hence they are known as a French or aristocrat lentil. Think winter cassoulet of duck with lentils and you’ll get the flavour. These Dirt(y) Inc. Royal Baby Blue lentils are from Rupanyup, Victoria and therefore are a sustainable, local, regional hero in my book. Their flavour is slightly sweet and nutty without that dry back palate you often associate with a red or brown lentil.

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To soak or not to soak (I swiped this bit from Dirty Inc.)

You don’t need to soak our lentils overnight before cooking, cos the fibres in the cell walls will break down from cooking. However soaking does neutralise naturally occurring enzyme inhibitors and phytates in the lentils. What this means in ENGLISH is that phytates can hinder the absorption of vital mineral nutrients (calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron etc) in your guts. Think of phytates as a naturally occurring “firewall” stopping you from absorbing some of the good stuff that your body might need to get on with life.

The downside to this argument is that there is some evidence that phytates have antioxidant properties, particularly in the role of fighting cancers. They do this by depriving cancer cells of the minerals they need to survive, but on the other hand, they are also going to block your body’s cellular uptake of good minerals. Hah! Life is dirt(y) and unfair, it’s like winning the lottery and then paying it all to the taxman…….so we suggest soaking your lentils before cooking and your body will be happier. Get more dirt

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Be lentil with me!

We popped into the Byron Bay Farmers’ Market after training the park with Candice Fit – she’s tops! Anyway, being at our local market later in the morning is the way to go I’ve decided. Not as many scenesters and still enough time to chat to the growers and producers – and snaffle a bargain from those who are already packing up. I said gidday to my friend Denyse Hodgson (whose Grumpy Grandma’s Wood Smoked Olive Oil just scored 93.67 out of 100!) and grabbed a bag of her Summerland dried olives with lime and chilli for breakfast. Yes I do eat odd stuff – but it’s better than bread or pastry post PT! Then I met the crew from Byron Bay Cheese Co  – these guys are behind the much talked about food destination called The Farm which opens real soon.

When I spoke to the Chamber of Commerce at the Lismore Show last week, I tried some of the Cheese Co’s washed rind – it was sensational – so we wandered over to their stall and came home with possibly the best cultured butter we have ever eaten – and a little tub of joy called Herbed Curd. ‘Better than the fetta you know’ I always say, and this little dollop of creamy goodness delivered the perfect subtle tones to highlight the earthy flavours of the lentils. I hope you like it too.

Sammy’s spring into summer salad of olives, tomatoes, sprouts and Dirt(y) Inc. lentils with herbed curd

Serves 2-3 as a light lunch

For the salad 

½ cup  Dirt(y) Inc. Royal Baby Blue lentils
½ cup  Dirt(y) Inc. Red Nugget lentils
5 cups water
2 tablespoons Summerland olive oil + more for drizzling
¾ cup macadamia nuts, crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup Grumpy Grandmas wood smoked olives
 1 cup assorted Coopers Shoot tomatoes, cherry, roma, truss roughly chopped
½ cup assorted sprouts
½ cup mixed lettuce leaves
6 teaspoons Byron Bay Cheese Co Herbed Curd
Edible flowers for garnish
Salt and cracked black pepper

  • Pick over the lentils and discard any stones that might still be present
  • place in a large pot and add water
  • Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes
  • Drain, refresh and set aside
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and saute garlic and macadamias for about five minutes over a low to medium heat
  • Add olives to the nut and garlic mix and heat gently without burning – keep warm
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked lentils with a little of the dressing
  • Add tomatoes and fold through, then add the nuts, garlic and olives
  • On a serving platter arrange the lettuce leaves and lentil salad
  • Drizzle with additional dressing as desired, garnish with olive oil and flowers
  • Spoon herbed curd onto the platter or plate the salad individually and serve curd on the side
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve

Simple balsamic vinaigrette dressing 

3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed through a garlic press
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Use a blender to mix the ingredients. It will produce a thicker vinaigrette dressing
  • One serving will equal 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing
  • One cup should easily be enough for 6 to 8 servings of mixed green salad
  • Refrigerate and store in a covered container. Whisk well before serving
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