Roast beetroot, warm lentil and goat’s cheese salad
The recent cold snap has made me crave really hearty meals, with this warm vegetarian salad being no different. The sweet flavour of the roasted beetroots and onions is brought out with an intense balsamic vinegar warm dressing, which coats the vegetables and earthy puy lentils and mixes with the slightly warmed and oozing goat’s cheese. If you are feeling a bit more carnivorous, the jewel-like roasted beetroots make a fantastic accompaniment to roast chicken too, especially if you add a few sprigs of thyme into their sweet glaze.
If you can get hold of beetroots with their leaves, they can be used like spinach and are lovely simply washed and sautéed in olive oil with a little finely sliced garlic or even used in place of the savoy cabbage for another winter inspired salad I made a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, the beet leaves on these English beetroots from my local greengrocers were a little worse for wear so they ended up on the compost heap.
3 cloves of garlic
a little olive oil
140 grams or five oz puy lentils
550ml or 1 pint vegetable stock
a couple of bay leaves
a few sprigs of thyme
4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
two individual goat’s cheese (around 120g or four and a quarter oz each)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan oven)/ 200°C/ Gas Mark 6/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Thoroughly wash the beetroots and remove their stalks, retaining the root which will roast to form a wonderful beetroot crisp, which can be eaten as a little cook’s perk. Coat the clean, whole, unpeeled beetroots, the onions and the garlic cloves in a little olive oil and place into a roasting tray. If you prefer an even sweeter salad, feel free to use red onions in place of white ones. Roast the veg for an hour and twenty minutes, retrieving the garlic after half an hour to prevent the cloves from burning.
After the vegetables have been roasting for an hour, you can start cooking your lentils. Give them a brief rinse, place into a pan and cover with 450ml or three quarters of a pint of vegetable stock, adding the bay leaves and thyme, bring to boil and gently simmer for twenty to twenty five minutes or until al dente.
Once the vegetables have had their full cooking time and are tender, remove them from their roasting tray and set aside. Place the roasting tray, which should be coated with the sticky caramelised juices from roasting the onion and beetroot, onto a hob on a medium heat. Mix the remaining stock with the balsamic vinegar and use this to deglaze the tray, bringing it to the boil, stirring all the time and reducing to give an intense syrupy dressing. Place a dry saucepan onto another hob on a high heat and leave to heat up.
Drain the lentils and, while they are still warm, add them to the roasting tray and toss them in the balsamic dressing. Dressing the lentils as soon as they have been drained will mean they will absorb some of the sweet glaze. Peel and slice your vegetables, leaving the onion and beetroot in fairly large wedges and add these to the dressed lentils. Slightly melt the goat’s cheese by caramelising it’s rind in the hot saucepan, giving it around a minute on each side.
Serve the salad piled around the goat’s cheese. The warm and sweet dressing, flavoured with the natural sugars of the beetroot and onion and the intensely reduced balsamic vinegar, mixes with the wonderfully melted goat’s cheese, which is slightly sour and really creamy.