lentil “risotto” with basil pistou

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee

I make a LOT of lentils. They are super cheap and incredibly versatile. A lentil dish will provide you with a great amount of protein, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and lots of other minerals and vitamins.  This dish is an easy weeknight supper that you do not need to fuss over and requires no stirring! So it’s not really risotto. It’s my healthy attempt at tricking my mind into thinking it’s eating a bowl of carbs. That being said it’s a delicious meal in it’s own right and sometimes you just need the practical meals in life which you can prepare after a long day at work.  The pistou can even be made in advance and if there are any leftovers lentils keep well!


Pistou is pesto’s French cousin. Originating in Provence, pistou excludes pine nuts and cheese in the making and is simply garlic, basil, olive oil and salt. Some more modern versions do add Parmesan or Pecorino. This entire recipe can be vegan or vegetarian if you simply use vegetable stock and leave out the Parmesan at the end.

lentil “risotto” with basil pistou

serves 4



  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 30g basil
  • 30g rocket
  • 30g baby spinach
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • micro herbs
  • Parmesan


Preheat oven to 200˚C.

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee

For the pistou: Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic clove and teaspoon of sea salt into a puree. Scrape the garlic paste into a food processor for ease and speed and add the basil, rocket, spinach and olive oil. Blitz until smooth.

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee

Drizzle the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt and place into the oven for 15 minutes until cooked.

blistered cherry tomatoes | The Secret Life of Bee

For the lentils: Finely chop the onion and fry gently in a drizzle of olive oil until soft and lightly browned. Add the cup of lentils and ‘toast’ them on the heat with the onion. Add the three cups of stock, stir and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let the lentils simmer for a further 30-40 minutes until tender but not mushy. You should be left with little to no stock, just enough to keep the lentils slightly moist and risotto like.

Off the heat- stir in the pistou. You can add all of it for a big punch of flavour or as much as you like to taste and save the rest for delicious bruschetta. Finally add the zest of 1 lemon.

Serve with the blistered cherry tomatoes and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee



4 thoughts on “lentil “risotto” with basil pistou

    1. I use dried ones angel. The tinned ones are already cooked and I find them always too mushy. You can use green or brown lentils and just watch them in the stock so they keep their shape and a little bite 🙂 xxxxx

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