I sometimes do too much volunteering and overextend myself but one way or another something good always comes out of it. This recipe that came out of the last cooking demo I did and is really good.
The theme for the event was Israel and I have been doing a lot of eastern Mediterranean cooking lately. The trick was to do a cooking demo without really cooking since there was no water, stove or anything at the venue. I could do the cooking in advance, though. The first recipe was really easy, Labneh, which is just a drained yogurt cheese, I’ll post that later, but back to this. It seemed like every recipe I saw didn’t fit the bill, until I came across this recipe in Haaretz, but when I made it I wasn’t thrilled. It was mostly beets with a smattering of lentils. I wanted more delicious lentils. So I hacked the recipe. I thought you would be interested in the process of me developing a recipe so here’s what I did to it. I obviously increased the amount of lentils and used fewer beets. I also cooked the lentils in stock instead of water for more flavor, took out the cumin which overpowered the dish, subbed sumac for the lemon zest for more of a Middle Eastern touch and added some of the tahini drizzle, of which there was plenty, to the dressing. This also gave me more dressing to put over the baby greens which was another addition. I tried arugula first but wasn’t crazy about the combo. What resulted was an excellent salad. The tahini, which is made from sesame seeds completed the proteins in the lentils making this a delightful vegetarian meal. If you like walnuts, a handful of toasted ones would be lovely as well. I is what I really call a recipe repair.
I was dismayed that there were no golden beets available when I made this because I think the color contrast with the lentils would be stunning, but having everything almost the same color made eating it more of a surprise.
Lentil, Beet and Tahini Salad
3/4 C black or french green lentils
1 1/2 C veggie stock
4 T tahini
2 1/2 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sumac or lemon zest
1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper or to taste
1 garlic clove minced
1 T apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
4 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2—3 beets, steamed, peeled and cut into cubes
Cilantro and Feta for Garnish
Cook the lentils in the stock until just tender, about 20 minutes. The age of your lentils will determine the exact cooking time. You want an al dente texture. Drain and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk the tahini, lemon juice and enough water (3 T) together to make it a pourable sauce. Season with the 1/4 tsp salt.
Combine the spices, garlic and vinegar. Whisk in 2 T of the tahini sauce. Slowly whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add about half of the dressing into the lentils. Add the beets and mix in. Taste for salt and correct the seasonings. If it seems dry add a bit more dressing.
When ready to serve dress the baby greens with some of the remaining dressing. Place on the serving plate. Top with the lentil and beet mixture. Drizzle with the reserved tahini dressing. Garnish with the cilantro and serve 4.
NOTES: The lentil salad is really good even without the beets. My first choice would be golden beets which would be a great color contrast and are what I like to call training wheel beets because of their milder flavor.
I am busy this week with a dinner for Seven Harvests, a farm to table dining experience supporting individuals who are transitioning out of addiction or incarceration. I promised my facebook readers the recipe and want to post more pictures of prep but also wanted to get the recipe out there. I will update next week with more pictures. Enjoy.