Friday, March 25, 2011

Lentil, Beet & Honey Salad

Two-for-one recipe day here at SteffesWood Apiary!  Robert has been busy cleaning up the garden this spring and planting peas, pak-choi and beets. The beets made me hungry for this salad, which is one of the best salads in the world--bar none!  It has lots of fabulous umami--a rich savoriness that makes this salad a meal on its own (especially if you're a beet fan).  It's adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine

1 lb fresh beets, trimmed
1/2 cup water
1 3/4 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
olive oil
3/4 cup dried lentils (French green lentils are lovely, but plain brown ones also work--they may not need to cook as long, though)
1 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
1/2 cup red onions, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (or other flavored vinegar--truth be told, cider vinegar would be fine!)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Lettuce (for serving--optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place beets in dish with 1/2 cup water and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake until beets are tender, about 50 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, peel beets and toss with a little olive oil.  Chop beets into 1/2 inch pieces. (See note at the end of the recipe for an alternative way to prepare the beets.)

While beets are baking, place lentils and ginger slices in a sauce pan and cover with 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain and discard ginger.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt.  In a small bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt with ginger, onion, vinegar and honey.  Steep for 15 minutes.  Stir in oil and coriander.  Pour onto warm lentils and toss to coat.  Stir in mint and cilantro.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Place beets on top of lentils. Serve on a bed of lettuce, if you'd like.

NOTE: A few years ago on a blistering mid-July day, Burgh Bees and Slow Food offered honey-based recipes at the Farmers@Firehouse Market in the Strip District and served this salad.  The Slow Food cook who prepared the salad couldn't bear to turn on her oven, so she grated the raw beets and put them in the salad--it was delicious.  Just sayin'!

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