Red Lentil and Roasted Beet Salad
Beets are such a maligned vegetable that it almost breaks my heart. They are at the same time regal, by virtue of their color-they dominate anything they come into contct with, and humble, as they are just roots. I find their earthy sweetness irresistable, and I blame all their woes on too many canned beets. I do admit their staining qualities might prevent more widespread use. Roasting beets is very simple and avoids alot of the mess. Simply remove the green tops, douse with a bit of olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, and roast in a 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hour (depending on how large your beets are). Once they are roasted, their skins slip off effortlessly, leaving you a gorgeous vetetable to work with. I love them like this mashed with a little salt and pepper.
But for this recipe, I diced them and used them as a component for a beautiful and nutritious lentil salad. Lisa at Champaign Taste posted a recipe (sans beets) for this salad last week, and it inspired me to make this salad to which I added beets to enhance the color of the red lentils. Caution:red lentils cook much faster than the green and brown ones-so be careful not to over cook them. Then I came across another lentil salad-this one made with beets and regular brown lentils posted by Emily at Cook the Wolf. Emily's recipe comes with a tutorial on recipe writing, borrowing, and outright stealing. Very enlightening for anyone writing recipes. It seems that recipe ingredients cannot be copywrighted, but directions on how to use the ingredients can be. Fascinating, really. Do visit her blog for a more articulate explanation.
3 cups of cooked red lentils (cook them al dente with your best pasta cooking technique)
3 small beets, roasted and diced
1/4 cup sliced celery-I found this a distractin and will not add it next time
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
Juice of three lemons
1 Tablespoon of honey or sugar (beets marry well with sweet)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to your liking
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all of the ingreients and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
I served it on a little curly endive, garnished with some more fresh tarragon.
If you don't like tarragon, Emily suggests Basil in her salad.