Salads don’t always have to be about lettuce and this one combines slow roasted root vegetables and lentils. I admit I’m a fan of any type of lentil and use them in just about any type of recipe. One thing I hate doing is cooking them. I grew tired of babysitting them while they simmered on the stove and then have them stick to the bottom of the pan and turn into lentil mash. One day I thought why not try cooking them in the oven like I do when I make rice. The amount for this recipe is actually more than you need but they freeze well, and yes, I’ll be using more of them in upcoming Meatless Monday recipes so have them on hand.
1 ½ cups brown lentils
Salt and pepper (for both the lentils and vegetables)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon butter or margarine…whatever is your preference
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 golden beets, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Pre-heat oven to 375. In a large baking pan add the carrots, parsnips and beets. Sprinkle with a good amount of both salt and pepper and then drizzle with oil. Using your hands, ‘massage’ the oil and seasonings into the vegetables. Put the pan in the oven and cook the root vegetables for about 20 minutes. What you’re looking for is a lightly golden, caramelized look which brings out their flavor and sweetness.
At the same time the vegetables are cooking you can cook the lentils.
First wash them and make sure there are no bits of gravel/stones lurking in them. Put them in a large baking dish that has a lid. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, and also both the garlic and onion powders. Add the butter and then add enough water so the lentils are covered by at least an inch of it.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes. Check often just to make sure the water isn’t drying out. When they’re cooked they should be soft but still remain their shape.
When both the vegetables and lentils are cooked remove the oven and let them stand for about five minutes.
To make the salad. In a large bowl add about 1 ½ cups of the cooked lentils and all the vegetables and mix together. There should be enough oil left on the vegetables to coat everything but if not you can add more.
Next add the rice vinegar (you can also use balsamic too) and mix everything together. Give a final taste test and add more salt and pepper or vinegar if you like.
You can top this with some feta cheese too and I like to serve it with some homemade pita bread.