From lockdown with love: Chefs share their go-to comfort food recipes

Vegan veg and lentils (fakes)

This recipe’s correct name is fakes (pronounced “fah-kehs”) and it is a household staple in Greece. Rich, comforting and super healthy, you would never guess, when tasting it, that this dish costs less than $1 a serve.

Ready to eat in under an hour, this is a good one to have with plenty of bread while sitting on the couch watching a good movie. These are the dishes helping chefs survive lockdown, and some tips and tricks to change our cooking for good.

Lockdowns in 2021 seem different to last year. In 2020 we were hit with the initial shock, but then we hunkered down and made it work however we could.

This year feels different. We’re over it. We’re ordering in more often because sometimes we’re too deflated to think about cooking. Just the thought of trying to decipher the ingredients list is enough to have us reaching for the liquor cabinet even earlier than normal.

Scrolling Instagram a few weeks ago, I came across a post from a dear friend who was clearly having one of those 2021 days and something clicked. I could go visit some of my favourite chefs, and have them whip up something to shoot that we could all manage to make. No showing off, nothing fancy; just ingredients we stare at in the cupboard when we declare “there’s no food in the house!”

It’s food that will get us through this and put a smile on our faces.

– Kristoffer Paulsen

Shannon Martinez, chef at Smith & Daughters and cookbook author



  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • ½ bulb fennel, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 500g green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • water
  • 1 vegan chicken stock cube
  • 1 bay leaf
  • small handful chopped parsley
  • red wine vinegar, to finish


  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, carrot, fennel and celery. Throw in a big pinch of salt and cook until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the tomato paste. Cook for a further minute.
  3. Pour in the lentils and enough water to cover the lentils by 2.5cm, then stir in the stock cube.
  4. Drop in the bay leaf and season well with salt and pepper. Simmer over a medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but still holding their shape. (Add more water if they’re looking dry.)
  5. Once the lentils are cooked, stir through the parsley and check the seasoning. Ladle into bowls and drizzle over the red wine vinegar and some more olive oil. Eat with plenty of bread.


Tips and tricks

  • To increase the health factor, add handfuls of your favourite greens right towards the end.
  • To make it extra lush, top with vegan or regular feta.
  • Toss leftovers through pasta with a splash of pasta cooking water.

(Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen. Shannon Martinez at home with a bowl of fakes – vegan veg lentils)