Oct 252010
 


This weekend I enjoyed my absolute favorite Saturday afternoon pastime–wandering along in the Union Square farmers market.  There’s nothing better than the smells, colors, and tastes (yes, there are some samples).
(check out the camera on my new blackberry…not bad!)  


I was so amazed by all the amazing fall colors, that I wanted to make a dish that focused on those crazy colors we find in nature, and so the ingredient of choice was obvious–beets.  A few hours of recipe browsing later, and I had decided to make a variation of Bobby Flay’s Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets.


First step was to get those beats a roastin.  It takes about an hour so plan accordingly.  I’ve only recently become familiar with the process of roasting beets, and to be honest I was kind of shocked how easy it is.  You drizzle them with oil, season with salt, and wrap up in tin foil bundles of about 2-3 beets.  Throw it in the oven and they come out perfectly sweet and beautiful.  Word to the wise–when you peel the beets, throw on a pair of latex gloves.  Your fingers will be pink for days if you don’t.  


Once you get the beets in the oven you can focus on the lentils.  Let the lentils simmer in chicken stock flavored with onion, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf.  After they’re done cooking separate the lentils from the stock/veggies and set aside.  I made an addition to the original recipe which I was VERY happy with–adding the beautiful beet greens to the mixture.  Saute the beet greens in some olive oil and garlic until they’re wilted, then add those lentils back in and add fresh thyme and sherry vinegar to finish it off.  

 

The original recipe is served over leafy greens but since I incorporated the beet greens into the warm mixture I left that out.  Arrange beets around lentils and goat cheese rounds on top.  An amazing salad that can be a hearty meal or a delicious side salad.  I, for one, cannot WAIT to eat this all week for lunch!  Be forewarned that there are a few separate steps to executing this recipe and it is not a quick fix, but it is welllll worth the wait.  


Nutritional Highlights: Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.  Lentils are a great source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and they prevent blood sugar levels from rising quickly after a meal.  They are high in protein with virtually zero fat and only 230 calories for a whole cup which will fill you up completely.  So those are the stats, but let me reiterate that this meal is SO tasty–sweet from the beets, savory from the lentils, and creamy from the goat cheese (which you can leave out if you want to make it a vegan choice).  Enjoy this one…it’s a goody.  


Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets

adapted from Bobby Flay

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, quartered
  • 1 fresh or dried bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 cups dried French green lentils
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound slab bacon, diced (I left this out so it’d be a vegetarian meal but if you want it I’ll allow it)
  • I added the beet greens but if your beets aren’t attached to the greens then forget it…just don’t throw out these tasty healthy greens if they’re there!!
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 cups frisee or mixed greens
  • Sherry Vinaigrette, recipe follows
  • 4 slices goat cheese
  • 6 large beets, assorted colors

Beets:

Begin by roasting the beets.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle beets with olive oil and season with salt. Wrap beets in aluminum foil (2 groups of 3), place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until cooked through, approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, and then peel and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. (WEAR RUBBER GLOVES or you’ll regret it…)

Lentils:

Tie onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs together in cheesecloth. Place chicken stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the lentils, season with salt and pepper, and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and discard the cheesecloth bag of aromatics.
Bobby’s way:  Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until lightly golden brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a dish lined with paper towels. Add the garlic and carrot to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked lentils and bacon to the pan and stir to combine. Stir in the chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep warm.
My Way:  Add garlic and carrot to the pan and saute for 1 minute.  Add beet greens and saute for another few minutes until greens have softened.  Add the cooked lentils to the pan and stir to combine. Stir in the chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep warm.
To assemble, place the frisee in a large bowl (or leave it out like I did). Arrange the roasted beets around the outside of 4 dinner plates. Divide the greens among each plate in the center. Top the frisee with some of the warm lentils and place a slice of the goat cheese on top. Drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette (recipe below). 

Sherry Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, thyme and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until emulsified.

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