See the slideshow for wizardly ways to transform richly braised lentils

Photographs copyright Peter Knab

Richly Braised Lentils (page 307)

Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids

  • Peel the onion. Start your child off by cutting off the tops with a knife. Then peel the skin just enough to give them something to grip and then pull off. This is extremely satisfying at any age.
  • Peel the garlic. Jake and James love banging it to loosen the skin first.
  • Measure the olive oil.
  • Measure the water.
  • Measure the tomato puree. Jake loves doing this; he calls it the tomato toothpaste.
  • Weight the lentils, even if they don't need weighing.
  • Open the tin with as much supervision as they need. (Jake started doing this at 4 & 1/2.)

My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary

Jake 5 years 5 months, James 2 years 9 months


Jake and James have been eating lentils for pretty much their whole lives and Casey's been eating them for nearly two years now. It’s a Casey day today, and I’ve been trying to make sure that I cook with her every week. I’ve too often skipped our Wednesdays cooking together because I felt I wasn’t doing something she’d find interesting and I was distracted because I’ve been testing and because Jake and James are in the kitchen with me every morning. But the last few months, I’ve been following my own advice, just find anything. So they’ve peeled spuds and carrots, opened tins, seasoned chickens and picked herbs. It's always been fun and often helpful. Today I was testing these lentils for the first time and I needed to make sure I got all my notes right, so I decided that we’d all make fruit salad with yoghurt at the table for pudding.


There was something for all three to cut up. Because I’ve been teaching Jake to use a knife for a while now, I got him to cut up the apples with a sharp knife; Casey to cut a soft pear with a sharp knife and James cut the banana with a butter knife. I cut up a pineapple and James made a pineapple beard for himself with the skin. They all took turns stirring the yogurt into the fruit and it was success and progress. It was a practical playtime.


The alcohol is cooked out of the red wine so this is excellent for kids, but if the wine concerns you anyway, replace it with 350ml dry grape juice and 2 tbs of balsamic vinegar. If kids have never tried lentils before, you can mix the lentils with mince or tomato sauce to start them with something that feels a little familiar. The lentils are a good way to introduce other finely chopped vegetables, mushrooms, squash, parsnips and celeriac. Can be pureed or chopped and frozen for babies and toddlers.