Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Wipe 4 large peppers, halve them lengthways, remove their seeds, then place them in a baking dish or roasting tin. Tuck around them 250g of cherry tomatoes. Bake for 40-50 minutes, letting the peppers blacken here and there. They are ready when they are soft enough to collapse with a little pressure.
For the lentils, peel and finely dice 1 large carrot. Then do the same with 1 medium sized onion. Put them in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of olive oil and place over a low to moderate heat. Finely dice 1 stick of celery and add to the pan, with a couple of bay leaves and 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed flat. Add a couple of sprigs of thyme and leave to cook at a gentle pace, stirring regularly, for about 10-15 minutes until the vegetables have softened and are lightly toasted.
Add 200g of small green lentils to the pan, pour in enough water (about 500ml) to cover them and the vegetables by about 3cm. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are just tender. Add a little salt towards the end of their cooking time.
Remove the peppers from the oven, place in a shallow bowl and cover, leaving them for 10 minutes to loosen the skins, then peel – it should come away easily – and slice each pepper into 4 and place them on a dish. Chop the tomatoes and add to the peppers along with any roasting juices from the pan.
Drain the lentils, stir in 60ml of olive oil, a generous handful of chopped parsley leaves, a handful of basil then add the peppers and tomatoes. Serves 4
The sweet and fruity caramelised juices from the peppers and tomatoes form the heart and soul of the dressing, so scrape every drop of them from the roasting tin with a rubber spatula.
This is a good dish for a quick supper, but also to serve alongside slices of mozzarella or grilled halloumi. It’s also excellent with rare beef.