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Lentils and Beets with Salsa Verde

photo of a bunch of pink and purple beets with green leaves
Lentils and Beets with Salsa Verde
 
AJ says: The instructions for this recipe are lengthy, but don’t be put off. It’s actually quite simple. When prepared carefully as instructed, all the pieces flow nicely into each other to make the best lentils I’ve ever tasted. I never seem to have all the right mix of fresh herbs the recipe calls for, but I don’t let that stop me. I just use what I have on hand (our leaf celery is excellent in place of the parsley) and substitute dry herbs where needed. More than once, when I haven’t had the ingredients to prepare the salsa verde, I skip making it. The truth is, it doesn’t matter- these lentils and beets are outstandingly delicious on their own.
Recipe by:

Ingredients
  • —For the Beets—
  • 8 medium beets, quartered
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • —For the Lentils—
  • 2 cups Puy lentils
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small tomato*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few springs fresh thyme
  • 4¼ cups vegetable stock
  • —For the Salsa Verde—
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons cornichons
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Put the quartered beets on a tray with the vinegar, a good plug of olive oil and a splash of water. Then season with salt and pepper and toss everything to coat. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 1 hour until the beets are cooked through and the juices are neon pink.
  3. White the beets are roasting, make the lentils. Put them into pan with the unpeeled garlic, whole tomato and herbs. Add vegetable stock to just cover, place over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are cooked and the water has evaporated. If they are looking dry, add a little boiling water as needed.
  4. Next, make you salsa verde. On a big cutting board, chop the capers and cornichons until they are pretty fine, and then add the herbs and chop everything until you have a fine mass of green.
  5. Put the chopped greens in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and taste, adjusting everything until it’s to your liking.
  6. Once the lentils are cooked, scoop out the tomato and garlic cloves and put aside to cool. Throw away the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Once cool enough to handle, pop the tomato and garlic out of their skins and mash together. Add back to the pan of lentils and stir through. Taste, adjust the seasoning, add a generous glug of olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.
  7. Serve the lentils into dishes and top with the roasted beets, drizzling the bright pan juices over. Spoon on the salsa verde to finish.
  8. *I use a frozen whole tomato.

 

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