This birthday has been a bitter-sweet one. I spent it with my amazing parents who I don’t see far enough. They live over 300 miles away which in UK is pretty darn far. That’s about a 4 hour train ride, a 6 hour drive or a 95 hour walk according to Google. Between you and me I think Google seriously overestimates how long my legs are and how fast I can walk. We took long walks along the river, planted herbs for my kitchen, enjoyed the first sun rays of a London summer and spent the days acting like kids.
But to every visit there must be goodbyes and it’s safe to say I suck at them. Yesterday I sought comfort in the arms of chocolate cookies, mini twirl bites, strawberry cheesecake ice cream and hugs on the sofa…nobody wants to see photos of what that looked liked. So today I turn to savory food to bring me relief in only the way a warm bowl of hot food can. It takes the form of bright fresh parsley, earthly lentils and roast beets all brought together with the creamy tangy softness of goats cheese.
Let’s get our humble ingredients together. Fresh parsley. Smashed garlic. Green lentils. Beetroots. Bay. Lemon. Soft goats cheese.
We wash and dry our beets and chop into smaller chunks. Smaller chunks equals quicker cooking which means the sooner we feel better – food logic. To make our beets sticky and sweet we roast them in a mix of oil, balsamic vinegar and smashed garlic. A sprinkling of salt and pepper are thrown in for good measure too.
Whilst the beets roast and the lentils simmer we can get to the good bit. Fresh crumbly goats cheese, bright parsley and the zing of lemon. Pure flavor.
Finally toss the warm lentils and beets with the parsley, goats cheese, lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dig in, enjoy and sit back.
Adapted from the following book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
200g green/puy lentils
400ml vegetable stock, I used fresh (recipe to come soon) but a stock cube would work just fine
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 beetroots, cubed (if you don’t like beetroots then try butternut squash roasted with a hint chili flakes)
Half a bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
120g soft goats cheese (feta cheese would also work well here), crumbles
Juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil plus extra for dressing the lentils
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar plus extra for dressing the lentils
Freshly cracked salt and pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 200c (390F).
- Gently wash and dry the beets. Cut into small cubes and place in a roasting tin. Dress the beets with the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, the two cloves of smashed garlic plus a general grind of salt and pepper. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir half way through. Once you can pierce them with a knife easily they’re done.
- Put the lentils in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and drain immediately. Put the lentils back in the pan with the vegetable stock, bay leaf and remaining clove of garlic. Gently simmer for 20-25 minutes. If you wish to add salt (depending on your stock) add towards the very end.
- Whilst the beets are roasting and the lentils are cooking prepare the rest of the ingredients. Finely chop the parsley and break up the goats cheese into small pieces.
- Once the beets and lentils are cooked combined these in a bowl along with the parsley and goats cheese. Dress with the juice of the lemon, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season to taste.