Thursday, 7 April 2016

Quick Beetroot, Goat's Cheese and Puy Lentil Salad with a Balsamic and Basil Dressing

A simple and tasty dish to throw together, especially if you're in a rush!

So this dish came about one evening, when I didn't have much time left, and wanted to throw together something simple and tasty in time to watch Masterchef together (because it ALWAYS makes you hungry when you watch that programme, and you have to have something nice to eat!).

I threw the lentils into a bowl, dressed them to taste, went to get the pack of vacuum-packed cooked beetroot I had in the fridge, only to find out that I hadn't! Fail! I did at least have some beetroot, even though it wasn't already cooked, so had to compromise by throwing it into the oven to roast, while we watched Masterchef feeling increasingly 'hangry', then threw the rest together afterwards once it was cooked! However, provided you have a little more foresight than I did, and the ingredients to hand, then this will be a quick and easy meal to throw together in a matter of minutes.

If you wanted to, you could serve the lentil and beetroot element of this warm instead of cold, by giving it a quick blast in the microwave, or warming through gently in a pan with a splash of extra water.

Serves three for lunch or a light meal, or two for dinner (it's surprisingly filling!), or of course, more as a starter! 

Calories - for three lighter portions, 232 to 278 calories per portion (French vs. full fat cheese); For two larger portions, 348 to 417 calories per portion.
You could serve this with some crusty kalamata olive bread, sliced thinly then brushed with a little olive oil and toasted or griddled until crisp. If you want a crunch to the salad, you could scatter over some toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts.

Oh, and P.S. Please be prepared, and don't be alarmed the next day when the beetroot passes through your system and everything is a rather shocking colour!!!

[Calories in square brackets, if you're counting]
  • 200g cooked beetroot* (about 3,not in vinegar), sliced into thin wedges [84]
  • 1 x 250g pack of ready to eat Puy Lentils (e.g. Merchant Gourmet) [360]
  • 1 - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar [17 /35]
  • 1/2 - 1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree [8 / 15]
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra to drizzle if you're not counting calories!) [41]
  • Large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or shredded [2]
  • 60g watercress [16]
  • 90g soft goat's cheese (e.g. Sainsbury's French is lower calorie, or Abergavveney is vegetarian) [142 / 280]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper [1]

*See notes if you want to roast your own beetroot from fresh, or use pre-cooked (i.e. the vacuum sealed packages, not in vinegar) for convenience.

1. Toss the (cooked) lentils, beetroot wedges, balsamic to taste, tomato puree, oil and fresh basil together, and loosen with a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary. Season the mixture to taste.
2. Divide most of the watercress between two plates, and scatter over the lentil and beetroot mixture.
3. Top with crumbled goat's cheese, and the remaining watercress, and a little freshly ground black pepper. If you're not counting calories, drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!


If you want to cook your own roast beetroot, simply cut the tops down to about an inch, give a quick scrub and pat dry, then coat in a little oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the oven (gas mark 6) for around an hour (mine were around 60-70g each, longer for larger beetroots) turning once or twice. Allow to cool enough until you can handle them, then rub off the skins with kitchen towel, and cut off the tops and roots.

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