Zac ’N’ Cheese With Basil Courgettes |
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Prep Time: 10 Minutes  | Cooking Time: 25 Minutes
Serves 3 

A comforting and filling meal to make from scratch — the cottage cheese and lentils give the dish a real protein boost. 


  • 200g of brown rice penne or other type of pasta
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100g of red split lentils, rinsed
  • 500ml of water
  • 3 medium carrots (about 300g), grated
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 200g of full-fat cottage cheese or homemade whole-milk ricotta 
  • 4 pinches of freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 pinches of ground white pepper
  • 2 pinches of ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 65g of sunflower seeds
  • 40g of pecorino (or parmesan)
  • Grated black sesame seeds, to decorate (optional)

To serve:

  • 2 large courgettes, sliced into rounds
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Handful of fresh basil, torn


1. In a medium pan, cook the pasta until just al dente (follow the packet instructions but reduce the cooking time by a minute or so). Drain and set aside.

2. In the same pan, melt the butter and sauté the garlic for a few minutes. Add the lentils, water, carrots and paprika and simmer, lid on, for 20 minutes until very soft. If the mixture is very runny, allow to simmer for a further few minutes with the lid off.

3. Add the Dijon mustard, salt, apple cider vinegar, cottage cheese, black and white pepper and nutmeg, if using. Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning. The sauce should be really smooth and creamy – if it seems too dry, add a splash of water.

4. Fold in the cooked pasta and then transfer the whole thing to an ovenproof dish (about 20 x 16cm in size), smoothing it out with the back of a spoon.

5. Sprinkle over the sunflower seeds and pecorino evenly. Top with black sesame seeds, if using, and grill for five minutes until lightly browned.

6. Meanwhile, dry-cook the courgette slices in a ceramiclined or seasoned cast-iron frying pan until tender and browned, then transfer to a dish, drizzle with olive oil, season lightly and cover with the torn basil.

Recipe from East by West: Simple Recipes for Ultimate Mind-Body Balance by Jasmine Hemsley, photography by Nick Hopper (Bluebird, £25)

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