Caraway Kidneys with Lentils and Spinach

Not everyone likes lamb’s kidneys but I crave them (and lamb’s liver) when they’ve been off the menu for a while. Here their rich flavour is surprised by aniseedy caraway, the little dark dried seeds ground to flour to sprinkle over soft, slippery onion. A couple of tomatoes – my last ripe big ones – give juice and a sweet, sour note to the red wine that sauces the bouncy kidney pillows. Lentils from a can thicken and complete the dish, perfect with a chunk of crusty bread to mop and slurp. Adding a bay leaf leaf, incidentally, to the lentils really lifts the flavours.

Serves 2

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 30 min

1 onion

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp caraway seeds

2 vine tomatoes

6 lamb’s kidneys

flour for dusting

100g young spinach leaves

150ml red wine

200g cooked Puy/brown lentils

1 bay leaf

     Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Heat the olive oil in a spacious, lidded sauté/frying pan, stir in the onion and adjust the heat to medium-low, so it cooks steadily without browning. Allow about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, adding a pinch of salt to help the onion to melt and soften. Meanwhile, use a pestle and mortar to pound the caraway to dust or as close to dust as you can manage. Boil the kettle. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Count to 30, drain, cut out the core in a pointed plug shape and swipe away the skin. Chop into small scraps. Slice chunks of bite-size chunks of kidney off the white central core; probably 4 pieces per kidney. Dust with flour. Wash the spinach and drain in a colander. When the onion looks soft and gooey, stir in the caraway, stirring for 30 seconds or so, then move it to the side of the pan and let the oil trickle back into the centre. Add the kidneys and cook for a couple of minutes before stirring to turn. Continue thus for a few minutes until plump and browned then add the wine, stirring as it bubbles up, continuing to make a thick, smooth onion-flecked sauce for the kidneys. Season lightly with salt and pepper and add the tomatoes followed by the lentils and bay leaf. Reduce the heat, semi-cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Discard the lid, stir in the spinach – it will seem an impossible amount to begin with but soon melts – stirring until the spinach is wilted. Serve now or reheat later.