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Puy Lentil Salad with Watercress Pesto

This is a delicious and satisfying salad that can be served on its own with some good bread, or as a starter or side dish. It would also be lovely topped with grilled or fried haloumi slices. Watercress pesto has a lovely peppery flavour. It's worth making a double quantity to keep for another meal, as it is goes extremely well with tomatoes, grilled vegetables, cooked grains and pasta.

If you're keen to include more dishes like this in your daily life, take a look at our upcoming vegan or fast and delicious classes for inspiration!

Puy Lentil Salad with Watercress Pesto

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as starter or side dish

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 75g dried puy lentils
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 medium beetroot
  • 6 radishes
  • 75g watercress (or a bag of mixed leaves that include watercress)
  • 50g rocket
  • 50g baby spinach
  • 25g hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • optional: baby nasturtium leaves for garnish


To cook the lentils 

  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with the onion, bay leaf and thyme, bring to the boil on a high heat, then lower and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are tender but still firm. 
  2. Drain and remove the onion and herbs. Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the watercress pesto through the warm lentils, adding a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. 
  3. Add a pinch of salt and ground black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

To assemble the salad

  1. Peel and slice the beetroot very thinly with a mandolin or sharp knife. Slice the radishes thinly. Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
  2. Spoon the lentils onto a serving platter and pile the watercress, rocket and spinach on top.
  3. Arrange the beetroot and radishes amongst the leaves to look pretty, and then spoon drops of the pesto over the salad. You may not want to use all the pesto, so keep the remainder in a jar or plastic container with a layer of oil on the top, in the fridge for 3-5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. Finally drizzle over a little olive oil and scatter the chopped hazelnuts and nasturtium leaves.

Watercress Pesto


  • 25g hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 75g watercress, stalks removed
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp agave syrup or honey
  • pinch of salt


  1. Place the hazelnuts and garlic in a processor or blender and pulse a few times till the nuts are chopped.
  2. Add the watercress and the oil, and pulse again till thick, but not totally puréed. The pesto is good with a bit of texture.
  3. Decant the pesto into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and agave syrup and season to taste.