Lentil, Beetroot and Feta Salad

To offset the meaty onslaught of the Burgerweek, I promised Chantal to post some more veggie recipes. No problem, here it goes!

Yes, temperatures dropping rapidly and autumnal weather is really taking over. The last harvest from our youngest son’s school garden project consisted of loads of delicious chioggia beets. The warming earthiness of this salad is a perfect seasonal match! Inspired by Lauren Rothman’s recipe I found over at Serious Eats.

The Recipe

For the Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 80ml / 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10g / 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves (reserve some to serve)

For the Salad:

  • 4 medium beets, rinsed and halved lengthwise
  • beet greens, thoroughly rinsed and roughly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 350g / 1 1/2 cups Puy lentils, rinsed
  • 750ml / 3 cups water
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved, core removed and thinly sliced (reserve fronds to serve)
  • 80g / 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 205C/400F.
  2. Place the halved beets in a ovenproof dish and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and some salt and pepper. Arrange the beets cut side-down and roast until tender (25-30 minutes).
  3. Put the lentils, water and a large pinch of salt in a medium pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and let simmer until al dente (about 25-30 minutes), then drain the lentils and let them cool in a large bowl.
  4. In the meantime whisk together the mustard, balsamic vinegar and honey in a medium bowl and stream in the olive oil whilst whisking continuously. Stir in the chopped dill leaves and season to taste and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Cook the sliced onion and fennel, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (about 15 minutes) followed by the beet greens that need to be wilted (about 5 to 8 minutes). When done transfer to the bowl with lentils.
  6. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, cut them into a large dice and put them in the bowl with the other vegetables.
  7. Toss to coat with the dressing (start with half of the dressing) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter the feta crumbs, dill and fennel fronds and serve.

What worked and what didn’t:
The sweetness of the beets and fennel are nicely complemented by the earthiness of the lentils and the balsamic/honey/mustard dressing. The aniseed taste of the dill and fennel fronds and the tangy crumbled feta cheese really round off this incredible dish. Stunning flavours and good-looking to boot.

Recipe accuracy:
The recipe is accurate, easy to follow and easily serves 4 persons as a main dish.

Suggested tweaks:
We didn’t add the fried eggs from the original recipe, but the crispness of the oil fried eggs and ooziness of the egg yolks would certainly add an extra dimension to the salad.

Verdict: 9/10; Will definitely be made again

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