Over the past week or so, our weeknight dinners have needed to be very fuss free. The year is off to an active start. Anguel and I are trying to make good use of our evenings - despite the early darkness encouraging us to curl up on the couch instead (with a cat on each of our bellies, of course). As tempting as this is, we're determined to get moving. We spend a lot of time sitting for our day jobs, so we're trying to make sure we negate some of it during our evenings. In between our neighborhood walks each night, a smattering of yoga classes and making time to visit with family + friends...somewhere in there, we try to fit in dinner!
We've had this Beet & Lentil salad a few times now and have loved it every time. It's a substantial dinner that keeps you full without weighing you down – thank you black beluga lentils! Add beets (served two ways) and a generous sprinkling of homemade herbed goat cheese and I guarantee this dish is going to make you happy! The best part? Well, besides looking STUNNING…most of it can be made in advance. So if you plan it right and do the prep work the day before, it'll take you all of 15 minutes to get dinner on the table on the day of!
My heart beats for beets (I had to, sorry). I love them. Roasted, steamed, raw…you name it, I like it. I love beets so much that I used two types in this salad. Because you can never have too many beets! More often than not, salads call for roasted beets and that's one way we'll use them in this recipe. Since the roasting can take a bit of time (~1 hour in the oven), I find it easiest to prep a whole bunch at the beginning of the week. They keep well in the fridge and are awesome to have on hand to add to salads, sandwiches, you name it.
And let's not forget about raw beets either! Sliced thin they provide an awesome crunchy, slightly sweet and visually stunning component to a salad. You can absolutely stick to only red beets, if you prefer – but I dare you to tell me that these candy-cane beets (or chioggia beets) aren't one of the prettiest things you’ve ever seen! They have stunning fuchsia and white stripes running through the inside of the beet, much like a bulls-eye. On the upside, candy-striped beets don't have as much "staining-power" as red beets. On the downside, the brilliant stripes get muted after cooking. For this reason, I try to keep them raw when possible. Because who wouldn't want to show them off?!
Herbed goat cheese. I don't think this one needs much introducing. Part of me wishes I didn't discover this, because it's so addictive. Literally. I'm not sure if you saw my Insta post last week, but I had a dangerous encounter with this cheese and a handful (or box) of my favorite crackers. Beets and this goat cheese is definitely a match made in heaven. Once you've had a taste of this cheese, I'm sure you'll come up with a million other ways to use it.
If you have the time (and foresight) to prep in advance, you can cook the red beets and lentils the day before. The herbed goat cheese can also be made ahead (although, it literally takes five minutes to throw together). If you do the prep work, then all you'll need to do on the day of is throw everything into a bowl – and then add some thinly sliced candy-striped beets on top. That said, if you're not in a mad rush, you can totally make the dish from start to finish on the day of. Roasting the beets is the part that takes the longest, but it isn't entirely difficult nor does it require much active cooking time. So, once the beets are in the oven, you're free to throw on some music and do whatever you want! Save 30 minutes at the end of their bake time to prep the lentils and everything else. And I'm warning you - try not to devour all the herbed goat cheese while you wait. It's no easy feat!
Beet Lentil Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese
Beet Lentil Salad
- 3 small red beets, trimmed (about 8 oz/225 g)
- Extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
- 1 cup dried beluga lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 3 cups lightly packed arugula
- 2 small Chioggia (candy striped) beets, thinly sliced (see note 1)
Herbed Goat Cheese
- ½ cup soft goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Lemon Dijon Dressing
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Roast beets: Drizzle beets with a bit of olive oil and wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until tender when poked with a fork, about 40 to 50 minutes (time varies based on beet size). Unwrap beets and let cool.
- Cook lentils: Add lentils to a medium saucepan and cover with about 3-inches of water. Cover with a lid slightly ajar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Drain lentils and transfer to a large bowl.
- Mix Goat Cheese: In a small bowl, combine goat cheese, basil, chives, dill and salt. Mix thoroughly, then refrigerate until needed.
- Make Dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey , dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Assemble: Use the edge of a spoon to scrape off the beet skins. Chop beets and add to lentils. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Add arugula, Chioggia beets, and crumble in goat cheese. Gently toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Chioggia beet substitute: If you can't find Chioggia beets, substitute with red or golden beets. If you have a mandolin use it, otherwise slice the raw beets with a knife as thin as possible.
- Make ahead option: Make the roasted beets, lentils, herbed goat cheese, and dressing in advance. Cover separately and refrigerate. Slice the fresh beets and combine right before serving.
- Storage tip: If you think you'll have leftovers, keep the arugula separate, since it'll wilt after sitting overnight in dressing.