Recipe: Persian Beetroot, Carrot & Lentil Salad

This recipe was really inspired by cooking at the Skip Garden in the winter, when often British carrots and beetroots were some of the few seasonal, local and organic vegetables I could get hold of. It’s a gorgeous salad to make in the late Autumn months (when pomegranate’s are at their best) and the bejewelled nature of the glistening carrots, beetroots and pomegranate seeds somehow suits the season.

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I learned recently, on a foraging workshop (because that is how I spend my weekends these days) that beetroots are all descended from Sea Beet (beta vulgaris maritima), a plant that is common around the coastline of Europe. Sea Beet leaves are delicious lightly steamed or stir fried with garlic, spinachy but even yummier.

This salad is also great at this time of year when the new beets and carrots are just coming into season, their sweetness is the perfect foil to the earthy lentils. Add a bit of crumbled feta to make a more substantial side or a light lunch.

Serves 6 as a generous side dish

Ingredients:

For the salad:

350g Beetroot (I used red but golden would be nice, or a mix)
350g Carrots
A good squeeze of honey (about 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
250g Green or Puy Lentils
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

For the dressing:

1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Honey
Juice of 1/4 Lime
1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt

To garnish:

50g Walnuts
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
A few pea shoots (or other greenery such as flat leaf parsley or rocket)

Method:

Cook the beetroot. Gently wash the beetroot and remove most of the stalks (leave a bit of stalk to minimise ‘bleeding’ in the pan). Put in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for at least 20 minutes and then check if cooked. Continue cooking until cooked (a skewer will go into the beetroot with little resistance). The cooking time will depend on the size of the beetroot. Once cooked drain off the water. When cool enough to handle peel the skins off the beetroot and chop into chunky semi-circular wedges, usually 6 or 8 wedges per beetroot depending on their size.

Cook the lentils. Put the green or Puy lentils in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a rapid boil over a high heat. Once boiling turn the heat down to low and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked. Once cooked strain the lentils and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Cook the carrots. Chop the carrot into thick diagonal chunks about 2cm wide. Place the carrots in a roasting tray. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Roast in the oven at 180°C for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the honey and lemon juice. Mix well and return the carrots to the oven for another five minutes.

Toast the walnuts. Break into chunks. Put on a baking tray in oven at 180°C for 5 minutes.

Remove the pomegranate seeds from the pomegranate. Save the pomegranate juice to add to the dressing.

Make the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients (balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, lime juice and salt).Add any leftover pomegranate juice from when you removed the seeds. Whisk together. Taste to check for seasoning.

Place the cooked lentils in a large serving bowl and add half of the dressing. Stir well and taste to check for seasoning. Gently stir through about half of the carrots, pomegranate seeds and beetroot.

Put the rest of the carrots, beetroot and dressing on top of the lentil mix.

Garnish with walnuts, the remaining pomegranate seeds and pea shoots, rocket or flat leaf parsley.