23 October 2010
As I dashed in and out of Secretts farm shop to grab a cake en route to a friends for afternoon tea, I couldn’t resist the bunches of beetroot that were stacked up outside the shop. Once home later that day I roasted them and they tasted so great I wanted to eat them simply, and not bury their amazing natural sweet & earthy flavour.
There’s really not much too this salad but it tastes and looks so delicious I wanted to share it. With three main ingredients it’s simple to make and the components can be prepared in advance and kept for several days. Other salad leaves could be used in place of the watercress, it’s also nice with a little cheese such as feta or goats cheese crumbled on top.
Beetroot & Puy lentil salad with fresh herb oil
For the fresh herb oil:
Small bunch of mixed fresh herbs: I used parsley, chives, mint, chervil, thyme & sage.
100ml olive oil
For the salad:
60g Puy lentils, dry weight
Bunch of fresh beetroot, 6-8 small approx
Small bunch of watercress
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
First of all make the fresh herb oil, which will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I make this every so often when I have the remainder of a few bunches of herbs lying around that otherwise will inevitably end up in the bin. For this batch I used a little of each of the following - parsley, chives, mint, chervil, thyme & sage.
Rinse the herbs in running cold water and pat dry using kitchen paper or a tea towel. Roughly chop and place in a food processor with the olive oil and blitz until smooth. This could also be done using a hand blender.
To prepare the beetroot remove the stalks and leaves leaving just the bulb and give them a good rinse in cold running water. There is no need to peel them at this stage as the skins are easily rubbed off once they are cooked. Pat dry and place in a roasting dish and sprinkle liberally with the herb oil and season. Place in the oven at around 160˚C and cook for an hour or until a small sharp knife can be easily pushed into the centre of each beetroot.
Once cooked remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little. To remove the skins simply rub them with your hands so the skins easily come away and can be peeled off in strips. I do this wearing the washing up gloves so my hands don’t get stained! Once peeled cut them in wedges or slices.
To cook the lentils first give them a rinse then place in a medium sized pan with plenty of hot water and a little seasoning. Bring the water to the boil then turn the heat down a little and simmer until cooked, this should take about 20 minutes. The lentils should be cooked in plenty of water so if the water level becomes low simply add more hot water to the pan. Once cooked drain and set aside.
To make the salad take either your individual plates or a large platter and layer – first a scattering of watercress, then a spoonful of lentils followed by several beetroot wedges. Season well using sea salt & freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with a little of the herb oil. Repeat the layering again to give the salad some height and finish it with a little more seasoning and oil. Enjoy!