6 small or 3 large freshly harvested red or yellow beets
1 C. French lentils
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme
½ t. salt
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
¼ t. salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 T. olive oil
1 preserved lemon about the size of a lime (available in specialty shops and sometimes at places that sell bulk olives)
2 T. chopped fresh mint
½ C. chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Wash the beets and trim the tops off. Place them in a baking pan or wrap together in foil and roast until tender. This will take 45-75 minutes, depending on how big the beets are. Remove and let them cool. Peel and dice into ½-inch cubes. Sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Meanwhile, place the second group of ingredients in a saucepan and add water to cover by about ¾ inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender: 20-25 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs and bay leaf, drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, zest, shallot and ¼ t. salt. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Add olive oil; season with more salt and pepper as desired.
To assemble the salad, quarter the lemon and scrape out the soft pulp. Discard seeds. Finely chop the pulp and stir 2 t. of it into the vinaigrette. Finely chop the lemon skin and add it, along with the beets, vinaigrette, chopped parsley and mint to the lentils. Toss. Yield: 6 side-dish servings.
Wines: dry whites, light reds, fuller-bodied reds
Compliments cheeses, cured meats, seafood