Adapted from “Bean by Bean” by Crescent Dragonwagon (Workman, 2012).
- Vegetable oil
- 3 medium red beets with greens
- 2 cups dried French green lentils (lentilles du Puy)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup store-bought citrus vinaigrette or homemade orange vinaigrette (see note), divided
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 large or 2 small heads romaine lettuce, leaves washed and dried
- 3 medium oranges, peeled, seeded and sectioned
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a shallow baking dish with vegetable oil.
Trim the leaves from the beets, discarding any bruised or rotten leaves. Set the greens aside. Scrub each beet and place in the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until beets are fork-tender, about 1 hour. Let the beets cool to room temperature, then slip them out of their skins and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
Meanwhile, cook the lentils. Combine lentils, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and stock in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and let cook, covered, until lentils are almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Trim away and discard the tough stems from beet greens. Stack the leaves, roll them into a tight cylinder and cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch ribbons. Add the sliced beet greens to the lentils, and continue cooking until the lentils are fully tender, but still hold their shape, about 10 minutes more.
Drain off excess liquid, and discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Transfer lentils to a large bowl; let cool to room temperature.
Toss the red onion into the lentils. Make sure the vinaigrette is fully combined and add 1/2 cup to the lentil mixture, tossing well to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover and refrigerate.
In another bowl, toss beets with the remaining 1/4 cup dressing. Cover and chill. Recipe can be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance.
About an hour before serving, bring the beets and the lentil mixture to room temperature. When ready to serve, place romaine lettuce leaves on one large plate or divide among 4 small serving plates. Overlap beets on top of romaine, mound the lentil salad over that and scatter orange sections and toasted walnuts on top.
Note: To make your own orange vinaigrette, combine the juice and grated zest of 1 orange, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, 1 clove pressed garlic, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to combine, then taste and add more sweetener if desired. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 10 days. Yield: 3/4 cup. Yield: 4 servings.
Per serving: 553 calories; 28 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 46 percent calories from fat); 74 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 747 mg sodium; 28 g protein; 30 g fiber.