Meat Free Monday

Source: Sunday Times

Today’s recipe features beetroot, which, if you can’t find fresh, are also sold in handy vacuum packs. The scarlet colour of beetroot is thought to be a combination of the naturally occurring yellow (betacyanin) and purple (betaxanthin) pigments. These vibrant pigments are potent phytochemicals and antioxidants that work to protect damage to body cells from free radicals.  It is known that the more vibrant the colours of our fruit and vegetables, the more they have to offer in terms of nutrients to help protect our bodies from damaging free radicals.

Lentils contain high levels of proteins, including the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine. They are also a good source of  folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%).

Beetroot, Lentil and Feta Salad

Serves 2

500g beetroot, unpeeled

200g puy lentils

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

2 bushy sprigs of thyme, leaves only

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

Sea salt and pepper

1½ tbsp red-wine vinegar

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

A preserved lemon or a whole small one

2 big handfuls of parsley, roughly chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped red onion

150g feta cheese

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Wrap the beetroots individually in foil, put them in a roasting tin and cook in the oven for 1-2 hours, depending on size, until easily pierced to the centre with the tip of a knife; check after 1 hour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, put the lentils in a pan with the chopped celery and thyme. Flatten 2 of the garlic cloves and add to the lentils, along with 750ml water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils are just soft. Hoick out and discard the garlic, then drain the lentils. Crush the remaining clove of garlic and mix in, then add a good 1 tsp sea-salt flakes (or about ½ tsp fine salt), a few grinds of pepper, plus the red-wine vinegar and 2 tbsp of the oil. Mix well and leave to cool.

Peel the beetroots (they should just slip from their skins with the help of a knife), slice chunkily and add to the lentils.

Cut the preserved lemon in half, then slice out and discard the pulpy core. Cut the skin into thin strips and mix into the salad, along with the chopped parsley and onion. Stir in the remaining 3 tbsp of oil, then crumble in the feta and toss lightly together.

Source: Sunday Times