These are the best lentils I have ever eaten, teamed with sweet beetroot and a tangy herb salsa. A fine supper for a winter evening. There are three elements to combine, all simple. Serves 4
For the beetroots:-
8 medium firm beetroots, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
For the lentils:-
400g Puy or brown lentils, rinsed
4 whole cloves of garlic
1 small tomato, whole
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 litre vegetable stock
For the salsa verde:-
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp cornichons or gherkins
bunch of fresh mint
bunch of fresh parsley
bunch of fresh basil
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 6.
Put the quartered beetroots onto a baking tray. If your beetroots are large, cut them into smaller wedges as they can take a long time to roast. Add the vinegar, a good glug of olive oil and a splash of water. Season with salt and pepper, toss everything to coat. Cover the tray with foil and roast in the oven for 1 hour, until the beetroots are cooked through and the juices are neon pink.
Meanwhile, cook the lentils. Put the lentils into a saucepan with the unpeeled garlic, whole tomato and herbs. Just cover with the vegetable stock. Put on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes until they are cooked and the water evaporated [if they are cooked and spare water remains, simply drain it away]. If they are a little dry and not quite cooked, add a splash of boiling water.
To make the salsa, finely chop the capers and cornichons. Add the herbs and chop again. Put into a bowl and add the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste, add more oil or lemon until you are happy. Set aside. Once the lentils are cooked and all the water has evaporated, scoop out the tomato, bay leaf and garlic. Set the flavourings aside in a bowl to cool. When you can handle them, remove the garlic skin and tomato skin, mash the flesh and add back into the lentils. Mix, season to taste, and add a final glug of olive oil and red wine vinegar [be sparing with the latter, add a little and taste until you are happy].
When the beetroots are cooked, you are ready to serve. Pile the lentils onto plates, top with the roasted beets and drizzle over the roasting juices. Drizzle over the salsa to finish.
If you have some salsa left over, it will keep in the fridge in a sealed jar for 2-3 days.
What would I do differently next time:-
To make the leftovers go further, we added a pile of roasted broccoli, roasted carrots and onions.
Drizzle thick natural yogurt over the top
Substitute balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar
5 to remember
los tres elementos – the three elements
evaporado – evaporated
si estan un poco secos – if they are a little dry
se mantendrá – it will keep
un frasco sellado – a sealed jar
This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones