If you’ve been reading here or following me on Facebook lately you’ll know that salads-as-meals are my favourite fare at the moment. Substantial, fill-me-up-and-leave-me-satisfied type salads. I love them because they taste fabulous, are full of nourishing goodness, can be made in huge batches, keep well, and having a couple of different ones in tubs in the fridge makes it super easy to accommodate those last-minute extra mouths at the dinner table or grab a quick lunch.
This recipe evolved gradually in my kitchen, adding this and swapping that until it settled into what you see here. Sweet roasted beetroot, earthy Puy lentils, little jammy bursts of currants, the crunch of toasted walnuts and the soft, fresh flavours of coriander, dill and parsley – all these are delicious in their own right. But throw in some cumin caramelised onions to bring the whole lot together and you’re on your way to tastebud heaven.
This makes a LOT, so you’ll need a very big bowl, otherwise you can easily halve the recipe and start with a smaller batch. But if the big salad bug bites you as it has me, go out and buy yourself a huge big stainless steel bowl. They can be bought fairly cheaply from kitchenware shops and you’ll find yourself using it so often you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.
Roasted Beetroot & Puy Lentil Salad with Currants & Walnuts – serves 6-8 as a main meal or 10-12 as a side
- 5-6 large beetroot
- 350 g Puy lentils
- 2 large red onions
- 2 tsp cumin seed
- 8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 1/2 cup currants
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup coriander, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
- 100 g baby spinach leaves
- Sea or himalayan salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 180°C. Rinse the lentils then place into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer until the lentils are tender. Drain and set aside, covered.
Meanwhile, peel or scrub the beetroot and cut into 1.5cm cubes. Place into a large baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss the whole lot together with your hands then roast for about half an hour or until a knife slides easily into the largest cube.
Slice the onions. Heat a medium sized skillet, add 2 tbsp of the olive oil then add the onions and the cumin seeds. Sprinkle with salt then sauté until the onions are soft, dark and caramelised. If they start to catch on the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water to deglaze the pan and continue cooking. When you are happy that the onions are done, tip the lentils into a large bowl and stir through the onions. Add the currants and the walnuts and mix well, adding the beetroot when it’s ready.
Allow to cool slightly while you make up the dressing, by combining the apple cider vinegar and the remaining olive oil in a small bowl, and seasoning well with salt and pepper. Stir through the lentils.
When the mixture has cooled to the point that it won’t blanch the spinach (warm is okay), add the spinach and the herbs. Taste for seasoning and texture, adding another drizzle of olive oil if it is a little dry and serve at once. If you are putting it into the fridge to serve later, bring to room temperature before serving for the best flavour.