Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Beets are one of those underrated root vegetables. They don’t really get that much attention here. As far as I know, even if they’re sold in the market, I only get to eat them at home. Beets are wonderful and once you’ve tried it a few times, you’ll want to cook with it more often. Unfortunately, we only have one type of beets which is the red variety. The only difference is the size. I used to hate beets but I really like them right now. They have this intense beautiful, vibrant purple-red color. It also has a rich and deep flavor and they are always best paired with an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice to bring out its flavor. These beets are cooked with onions, garlic, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The moment you remove the foil, a wonderful bouquet scents your kitchen leaving you refreshed and uplifted.
The recipe states lentils but I used French green lentils or “lentilles de puy” which are darker in color and smaller in size. I think these dark jewels add substance and earthiness to the dish. To cook the lentils, I used 2-1/2 cups of water for every cup of lentil for about 30-45 minutes, adding more water if necessary. They don't need to be soaked as could get mushy. Just pick through the stones and they're ready to cook. To make this a vegetarian dish, substitute chicken stock with water. The lentils will still be full of flavor.
Another ingredient that I needed to add is wakame, which is a sea vegetable commonly used in miso soup. They are high in minerals, it cleanses the blood and it balances the hormones. If you don’t like wakame or if the taste is quite strong for you, you won’t notice it when you combine it with the beets, lentils and the dressing. I thought they’re a pretty good match. I used about 1/3-1/2 cup dried cut wakame. Soak them in water for about 8-10 minutes, drain and gently squeeze the excess water. Cut into smaller pieces if desired. Save the wakame liquid to water your plants.
The dressing is pretty strong on its own but when you combine it with the rest of the ingredients, you might need to add more red wine vinegar or lemon juice and few pinches of unrefined sea salt. Some extra basil leaves would be great too.
Here is a link to the recipe for Emily’s Purloined Beet and Lentil Salad. Serve it with mesclun greens or grilled salmon. They are also great for potluck. If you want to upgrade this dish, goat's cheese would be a superb addition. Just add them a la minute. Enjoy.