Beetroot and Lentil Salad With a Citrus Dressing
Beetroot and Lentil Salad with Citrus Dressing
This super-quick salad has a wonderful citrus tang. It's based on lentils, which are rich in fibre, protein, and iron, and very low in fat. There are several varieties of lentil: red, yellow, green, brown, and Le Puy. The latter are grown in the Puy region of France. They retain their shape when cooked, and they have the best flavour. Consequently, they are more expensive than other varieties. But they are the best for this recipe; although I have sometimes used green lentils (red and yellow lentils are best reserved for soups, as they cook down to a puree). Beetroot is added to the salad. It claims to be a superfood that can help to reduce blood pressure, aid sports performance, and protect against dementia. I normally use dried lentils, which are very cost-effective, but they are also available in tins or in vacuum packs. On busy days, I pop a pack of ready-to-eat lentils into the microwave oven. I normally open a vacuum pack of beetroot for speed and convenience, but I sowed a couple of rows of beetroot seed in my raised vegetable bed this year and look forward to enjoying the harvest during the summer months.
The weights given in the following recipe make two generous portions.
Ingredients for Citrus-infused Lentil Salad
- 200 g lentils - Puy or green
- 1 clove of garlic or 1 bay leaf (optional)
- Half a lemon
- Half an orange or one satsuma
- 25 g cooked beetroot
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Black pepper and salt
- A handful of flat leaf parsley
Recipe for Citrus-Infused Lentil Salad
- Put the juice of half an orange, or of a whole satsuma, into a bowl with half a lemon and the zest of the fruits. (Try to buy unwaxed fruit; it's much easier to grate.)
- Finely chop 1 shallot (or the equivalent amount of red onion, spring onion [scallion], or mild white onion) and add to the fruit juices.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Mix the dressing well.
- Place the lentils in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them to a depth of about 7.6 cm (3 inches).
- At this point, you might choose to add further flavour to the lentils by popping a clove of garlic or a bay leaf into the pan.
- Bring the pan to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for around 20-25 minutes until the lentils are soft. (If necessary, add more water to the pan to ensure that the lentils stay covered).
- Drain the lentils into a bowl.
- Pour the citrus onto the hot lentils and leave for a while for the lentils to absorb the flavours of the dressing.
- Meanwhile, chop 125 g of cooked beetroot. Add it to the lentil mixture.
- Add a generous handful of flat leaf parsley leaves to the salad.
- Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and salt.
Serving Suggestions for Citrus-Infused Lentil Salad
This salad makes a light lunch without any further additions. Serve a good bread on the side, if liked. For a more substantial lunch, I like to add chunks of feta cheese, which marries well with the beetroot, to the salad. Alternatively try it with smoked mackerel, grilled halloumi cheese, a salmon steak, or cold roast chicken.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Professor Jimmy Bell, of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College, London has advised that we eat more lentils, as the inulin (a form of insoluble fibre) that they contain can help to dispel the dangerous and invisible visceral fat that can collect around the internal organs, particularly in post-menopausal women.