Lentils with Fried Noodles

This is a poverty dish from the Cypriot hill country eaten during Lent.  It is entirely vegan and derives its complex flavors from intensely fragrant wild herbs: Cypriot Oregano and Bush Thyme. Chopped pitted brown olives are added to supplement the lack of meat. Serve with olive bread and red wine. 

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as mezé side dish 

2 cups (350g) small brown lentils 

¼ cup (60ml) virgin olive oil 

1 ounce (30g) thread noodles 

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 tablespoons (10g) dry crumbled rigani (Cypriot oregano: Origanum dubium)

1 tablespoon (15ml) virgin olive oil

Salt to taste 

Brown olives to taste (pitted and chopped)

Bush Thyme (Thymus capitatus) as garnish

Put the lentils plus 2 ½ cups (625ml) water in a small stewing pan and simmer over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Drain and set aside in a large work bowl. 

Heat the olive oil in a deep stewpan over a medium-high heat.  When it begins to crackle, add the noodles, and stir with a fork until they begin to brown (about 3 minutes). Then remove the pan from the heat and carefully add 2 cups (500ml) of warm water. It may splatter, so wear gloves.  Then return the pan to the heat and continue cooking the pasta for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and reserve ¼ cup (60ml) of the oily cooking stock and add the noodles to the lentils.  Whisk the ginger into the reserved stock and pour this over the lentils, adding the rigani and the additional tablespoons (15ml) of olive oil. Season and serve warm or at room temperature with chopped brown olives. Garnish with bush thyme for added flavor.