Have you poached anything lately? No, I don't mean as in running off with farmer Brown's deer. I'm talking about what the French call pochage, the art of cooking food by gently simmering it in liquid. We've all probably poached an egg but what about fish, meat, poultry, fruit, meatballs? It's an easy technique that results in lovely, pure flavours and textures. Here's an easy recipe to begin with.
Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the lentils. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
Cut the asparagus into 1cm pieces. Place the asparagus and chickpeas in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain.
In a large bowl, combine the lentils, asparagus, chickpeas and watercress. Add the mustard and stir through. Season to taste.
Poach four eggs by bringing a large pan of shallow water to a gentle simmer. Add a splash of vinegar. Cook the eggs, two at a time, by gently cracking them into the water. Poach for about 3 minutes, or until cooked but with runny yolks.
Remove with a slotted spoon and pat dry with paper towel.
To serve, spoon a mound of lentil salad on to each serving plate. Place an egg on top and drizzle with olive oil.