I love beetroot and despite the unfortunate urinary discolouration I will eat as much as I can get my hands on. Not a good start to a recipe really! Apparently that’s the betanin obtained from the root, which is also used in industrial food colouring. In high concentrations the body can’t break betanin down, hence the strong red colour when paying a visit. Don’t let this put you off eating beetroot! As well as being hugely versatile to cook with and tasting amazing it is incredibly good for you too as it’s packed full of antioxidants and nutrients. I like to steam my beetroot rather than roast as they don’t take as long and I find the skin is easier to remove.
I have gone a bit grain crazy lately in my quest to be healthier and my cupboard is heaving with a huge array of grains, lentils and pulses. Using lentils and grains together was firstly to make some space, but secondly to create some interesting textures. Puy lentils hold their shape well when cooked and have a slightly peppery flavour and quinoa, which has a firm texture, doesn’t really taste of much at all. What quinoa does have though, is the ability to soak up other flavours around them so I always go heavy on the herbs and seasonings. Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein – containing all eight of the amino acids. It also is packed full of fibre, gluten-free and easy to digest. So this ‘power’ grain combined with beetroot has got to be one of the healthiest dishes you can eat.
Serves 4 for lunch
15 minutes prep, 1 hour 15 minutes cooking (depending on size of beetroot)
4 raw beetroots
175g puy lentils
Bunch of flat leaf parsley and dill
50g toasted hazelnuts
1 tbsp cyder vinegar
2 tbsp hazelnut oil
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
- Place the beetroot in the steamer and cook over a low heat for about 1 hour 15 minutes depending on size of beetroot. Insert a knife to ensure soft. Set aside to cool.
- Pre-heat oven to 170C/ gas 3 / 325F. Toast the hazelnuts for 10-12 minutes. I know it’s stating the obvious but use a timer as it’s so easy to forget when you’re doing other tasks. Check the hazelnuts after 10 minutes to see if golden and the papery skins are flaking off. Rub off the skins with a tea towel, chop roughly and set aside.
- Rinse the quinoa and cover with about three times as much cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. The packet says 20 minutes but I find this is way too much and I have ended up with a soggy mess on previous occasions. You can tell it’s cooked as the grain opens up in a spiral but you can have a nibble to see if it’s done. Drain using a sieve, refresh in cold water to stop them cooking further and leave to cool. Cook the puy lentils the same way by covering with three times as much water but time for 15 minutes.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and add the puy lentils, quinoa and the chopped hazelnuts. Peel and chop the beetroot into small chunks and add to the bowl along with chopped dill and parsley. Stir well to combine. Taste to see if it needs further seasoning or lemon juice. Serve and enjoy!