• Yield: 4-6 servings as a side dish, 3 as a main course

  • Time: 20 minutes prep, 40 minutes cooking, 1 hour total

This shows just how delicious frugality can be.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 onion, in thin crescent moon shapes

  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed

  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 cup green or Puy lentils

  • 6 large carrots, sliced

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable stock or water

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, parsley, or dill

  • Good squeeze of lemon juice

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve


1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until soft and pale gold. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Now add everything else except the herbs, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil.

2. Bring to a boil and cook until tender and the liquid has been absorbed. It should take 30 minutes.

3. Taste, add the herbs and lemon juice, then adjust the seasoning. Add a generous slug of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

also try…

Moroccan spiced carrots:

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy saucepan and sauté 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, and 1 fresh red chile, seeded and shredded, until the garlic is pale gold. Add 2 tsp ground cumin and 1 tsp cayenne and cook for another minute, then add 1 lb carrots, in batons, and turn to coat. Add 1/3 cup orange juice, a pinch of light brown sugar, seasoning, and water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook until tender. The carrots should absorb the liquid. Stir in 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature as a side dish or part of a Middle Eastern mezze. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Uzbeki carrots:

Cook 1 lb carrots (in batons or chunks) in water until tender, then drain. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan and add 2 tsp caraway seeds, 2 tsp sweet paprika, and 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds, then toss in the carrots. Stir them around, season, and serve. Serves 4 as a side dish.

The recipes above are quite exotic, but also consider: Cook 1 lb carrots (in batons or slices) in chicken stock or water with a pat of butter, seasoning, and a little sugar until the liquid has been absorbed and the carrots are tender and glazed. Or add chunks of fried bacon and parsley or mint. A slug of heavy cream is lovely, too. Or go luxurious and toss the cooked carrots with butter-fried wild (or cultivated) mushrooms, adding a dollop of cream and a generous grating of nutmeg or sprinkling of parsley.

Reprinted from Plenty by Diana Henry.

Diana Henry is the Telegraph's food writer. She is the author of six books, including Plenty, which was selected as one of the top cookbooks of the year by The Washington Post.