Seasonal blood orange adds zip to a succulent dish of steamed white fish and braised lentils
Blood oranges, with their sharp acidity, sweetness and stunning colour, are one of winter’s gems. I buy them whenever I see them and have space in my bags. They transform winter puddings, add beautiful sharpness to savoury dishes and seem to show a particular affinity to fish, whether cooked or raw. Here they transform an otherwise very simple supper.
Pollock and blood orange en papillotte with braised lentils
You can use any white-fleshed fish, but this recipe is also wonderful with braised squid or cuttlefish.
Prep 20 min
Cook 45 min
1 fennel bulb, tough outer layer discarded, cut into 3-4mm-thick slices, and fronds reserved
4 small sprigs thyme
Salt and black pepper
4 x 100g pollock fillets, or other white fish such as hake or cod, with or without skin
3 blood oranges
About 16 good-quality kalamata black olives, pitted
30ml extra-virgin olive oil
For the braised lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 dried chilli, crumbled
300g puy lentils, rinsed
1-2 bay leaves
200ml white wine
600ml chicken stock or water
Heat the oven to 200C/(180C fan)390F/ gas 6. Make the lentils first: melt the butter and oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion, celery and carrot. Season generously and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli, stir for a minute, then add the lentils and bay. Stir, cover with the wine and stock, and add another half-teaspoon of salt. Bring to simmering point and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are soft but keep their shape.
To make the fish parcels, cut four 50cm squares of parchment paper. Divide the fennel and thyme sprigs among the squares, season both sides of the fish and sit them on top of the fennel. Now cut the tops and bottoms from two of the oranges and cut away the skin and white pith. Segment the orange pieces over the fish so that any juices drip over and divide the segments among the parcels. Dot with the butter, scatter over the olives , then fold over twice and seal into a parcel. Put on baking trays and roast for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through.
Spoon the lentils into deep plates, and top with the fish and all the goodies from their parcels. Squeeze over the juice from the remaining orange, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and add a final scrunch of sea salt and black pepper. Serve at once with a green salad and crusty bread.
And for the rest of the week
Make double the quantity of lentils and turn the other half into a soup, or serve with fried chicken thighs with crispy sage. Juice any leftover blood oranges to use in a granita (delicious with a dash of smoky mezcal) or use them for a mouthwatering ceviche.