lentil and charred broccoli salad with poached egg

i haven’t been blogging much as i’ve developed a couple of food-related obsessions which are embarrassingly simple and therefore don’t provide much worth sharing. one of these is poached eggs.

it’s only in recent years that i’ve become a fan of poached eggs and even more recently that i started to make them at home, much preferring an omelette or scrambled eggs (especially devil’s nest or spanish-style with extra ingredients such as prawns or artichokes). however, poached eggs are my new thing to cook.

i’d been keeping it simple – on buttery toast or on toast topped with crushed avocado have been particular favourites – but this week i decided to make more of an effort. this lentil and charred broccoli salad was what i came up with. it takes inspiration from all sorts of places but was a success – i loved the charred broccoli (be careful when you make this though, it’s easy to burn)  and the combination of that with the earthy lentils and the richness of an oozing egg yolk was perfect. i added crispy pancetta and crispy sage leaves for extra oomph – i have definitely stepped up a gear with my poached egg meal options!

lentil and charred broccoli salad with poached egg (serves 4)

300g lentils – i used a mix of tiny black lentils and puy lentils

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 shallot, peeled

½ a carrot, peeled

a small bunch of parsley, separated into stems and leaves

80-100g pancetta – i used rashers but lardons would also be fine (optional)

15-20 sage leaves

olive oil

large head of broccoli

chilli flakes


freshly ground black pepper

4 eggs – this is one per person but it’s also nice with two eggs each!

salad dressing

3 tablespoons olive oil – ideally something nice and fruity

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon mustard

cover the lentils with water and bring to the boil, adding the bay leaf, garlic, shallot,carrot and parsley stems. cook until soft.

in the meantime, in the bowl you’re going to serve the lentils, mix together your salad dressing ingredients and season well. when the lentils are cooked, drain and discard the bay leaf, shallot, carrot and parsley stems. crush the garlic and mix with the salad dressing and then add the warm lentils – dressing them while they are hot helps them to absorb the flavours of the dressing. when they have cooled, taste to see if you need to add more olive oil or vinegar.

fry the pancetta pieces until crispy – you may need to add a little olive oil to the pan but often this isn’t necessary. remove the pancetta and place on a paper towel to absorb the fat. add the sage leaves to the remaining pancetta fat/oil mix and cook until crispy then drain on a paper towel.

trim the broccoli and cut into 5mm slices – i broke the broccoli into florets and then sliced it but you could slice it whole so you get larger pieces. place the broccoli on a baking tray and toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes. place under a hot grill and cook for a few minutes on each side, until the broccoli has softened and the edges begun to char.

mix the broccoli with the lentils and add the chopped parsley leaves, pancetta (keep a bit for garnishing) and sage.

when you are ready to eat, serve the salad and then poach the eggs – i cook mine for c2 minutes. drain the eggs on a piece of kitchen towel to remove any excess water and then place them on the salad. tuck in!