This warming dinner is something I cook if we are all a bit weary at the end of a busy day. Not too much to think about or plan. No endless watching or stirring of pans. A cheerful meal when we are out of sorts. Healthy, delicious, gluten free and vegetarian. Anna Jones, you are a genius!
Everything about this gorgeous dish is comforting to me: The casual ease with which ingredients are thrown together and left to bubble away with scant attention from the cook; Savoury aromas creeping through the house now the evenings are getting chilly; Not having to plan too much for the ingredients. Too easy, if you don’t have beetroot simply substitute something else. I’ve topped these nourishing lentils with roasted cauliflower, butternut pumpkin, red onions, broccolini and kale and they’ve all been delicious. Next time I may try whole baby carrots and parsnips too. We like this topped with a generous blob of creamy natural Greek yogurt. I don’t always make the salsa verde if I’m pushed for time, but it does add another dimension with refreshing zing. You could always serve a handful of sharply dressed salad leaves as a stand in.
- 8 medium firm beetroots, a mix of colours if you can get them
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 400g Puy lentils, washed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 small tomato
- 1 bay leaf
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons cornichons
- A bunch of fresh mint
- A bunch of fresh parsley
- A bunch of fresh basil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan.
- Wash and scrub the beetroots and cut into quarters.
- Place in a roasting tray with the vinegar, a good glug of olive oil and a splash of water.
- Season with salt and pepper, toss everything to coat and cover tray with foil.
- Roast in the oven for an hour or so until beetroots are tender and cooked through and the juices are bright pink.
- While the beetroots are roasting get on with the lentils.
- Lentils, unpeeled garlic cloves, whole tomato and herbs go into a pot.
- Just cover with vegetable stock - you may not need the entire amount.
- Bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
- Turn heat down slightly and let them simmer away for about 20-25 minutes, until they are cooked and the water has evaporated.
- If they look too dry, add a little boiling water or stock as needed.
- Whilst the lentils are cooking , make the salsa verde.
- On a large board finely chop the capers and cornichons.
- Add the herbs and chop everything together until it's a finely chopped pile of green.
- Put the green stuff in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice.
- Season with salt and pepper and taste, adjusting everything until it's to your liking.
- Once the lentils are cooked, scoop out the tomato, garlic cloves and put aside to cool.
- Throw away the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Once cool enough to handle, pop the tomato and garlic out of their skins and mash together. Add back to the pan of lentils and stir through.
- Taste, adjust the seasoning, add a generous glug of olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.
- Serve the lentils into dishes and top with the roasted beetroots, drizzling the bright pan juices over.
- Spoon on the salsa verde and a blob of Greek yogurt.
You won’t regret giving this a go. It’s been a welcome addition to the high rotation dinner gang at our place. And another sneaky tip I can share with you, if you cook it in advance, you can always serve as a salad. In my experience it works a treat!
Recipe from A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones. Read my review of this excellent book here.