Alex Mackay's Terrifically Quick Tomato ‘Lentilzotto’

4 minutes - 8 minutes
to cook

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This recipe was inspired by Delia’s brilliant book, ‘How to Cheat at Cooking’ and is is the quickest route I know to the satisfaction of comfort food.

The saucy lentils and Grana Padano create the type of texture associated with risotto and the taste associated with Bolognaise sauce, but they do it in 6 minutes rather than 20. Once you’ve got this Lentilzotto in your repertoire you can take it beyond the almost instant meal as it can become a base for any recipe that uses savoury mince; think lasagne, moussaka, chilli or anywhere your imagination takes you. If you can’t find the pouch, I have included a recipe for lentil Bolognaise that gives you roughly the same result. For a touch of glamour you can serve this with Grana Padano tuiles.

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From Delias Food and Wine Workshops, recipe by Alex Mackay Serves 2

  • method
  • Ingredients


1.  Boil your kettle.

2.  Get medium sized shallow pan. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes and garlic. Bring to the boil. Add the lentils. Bring back to the boil, stirring constantly.

3.  Add the Grana Padano cheese. Stir over a medium heat until it has all melted. At this stage if you’d like the texture to be more saucy, add a touch of water from your kettle. Take the pan off the heat. Season to taste with salt, sugar and cayenne pepper.

4.  Season the baby plum tomatoes. Scatter them and the basil or pesto (if using) over the top. Serve.  

Lentil Bolognaise / To roughly match the Pouch for taste / quantities x 2
1 medium sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1, 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato concentrate
250g cooked Puy lentils
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
Salt, sugar, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper

Get a medium sized saucepan, add the onion, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Put a lid on and sweat for 6-8 minutes over a medium heat until the onions are soft but not brown. Add the tinned tomatoes, rinse out the can with a few tablespoons of water and add that too. Add the cooked lentils. Bring to the boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat. Season to taste. Set aside.

Photo by Peter Knab


100ml vegetable or meat stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
250g pouch Merchant Gourmet Tomatoey French Puy and Green Lentils
40g freshly grated Grana Padano
Table salt, caster sugar and cayenne pepper

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