I guess I can see why some people aren’t down with beets.
They’re a bit funky looking, and most people seem to have some unpleasant childhood beet memories. Just like peas, lima beans and brussels sprouts before them, beets get tossed in the mental “icky healthy food” bin without a fair fight!
You can’t just slop some plain boiled peas or a pile of raw shredded beets on a plate and expect your kid (or anyone, for that matter) to rejoice.
Beets deserve a bit more attention.
A little time and love, that’s all they’re asking for.
I like to do a roast/steam situation for my beets. You put them in a dish with a little olive oil, cover it in foil and forget about them until they’re done! If you aren’t working in bulk, you can always roast one beet in a foil pouch, much like you would for roasting garlic.
But today we aren’t stopping at beets. There’s a whole salad to be made! One that I think could convert a beet hater or two. I’m curious to find out if it would change the mind of my mom, who swears beets taste like dirt.
There is an earthiness to them, yes. But dirt?!
Well, if there are people who think cilantro tastes like soap… who knows.
These earthy beets get paired with earthy lentils, because they’re friends like that. It’s all going to get tossed in an extremely acidic dressing, so never fear.
The salad gets mixed with fresh celery, then topped with salty feta cheese and crunchy walnuts.
The really great thing about this salad is that each of the two main components can be prepared ahead of time and left to chill in the fridge for a good week. So if you happen to roast beets or cook lentils in large batches like I do, you’re in luck!
Roasted Beet and Lentil Salad
- 6 small beets, scrubbed and trimmed
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups french green lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped celery leaves
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- finely grated zest of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the beets and rosemary in an oven-proof dish and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Cover the dish with foil and roast for 40-60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. They're done when a knife goes through the beet easily. When cooled enough to handle, rub the skin off the beets and cut however you like.
- While the beets roast, prepare the lentils. Combine the lentils, garlic, bay leaf and 3 cups water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until tender. (You may need to add extra water, just enough to cover, as they cook.) Drain the lentils, remove the garlic and bay leaf, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the beets, lentils, celery, and some of the celery leaves; toss to combine. Top the salad with the remaining celery leaves, feta cheese, and walnuts.