Roasted Beet and French Lentil Salad with Capers and Walnuts

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Let's talk about beets for a minute. Do you love them or loathe them?  

It took me a while to truly appreciate the often overlooked beet. As a child, my only exposure was the canned version on buffet salad bars - my grandfather eating them mixed with cottage cheese...yuck. 

Years later though, after moving to New York, I decided to give the humble beet another chance. And I ended up loving them! When fresh beets are roasted, they become sweet, earthy, and caramelized - a completely different vegetable than what I grew up with. 

The other reason to love beets? They're a major nutritional powerhouse. Beets are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, support heart health, help detox the blood, anti-aging, boost endurance, and aid in muscle recovery. (1) I always coach my clients to eat the rainbow, and this is exactly why. With their gorgeous red color, how could they not be extremely good for you? 

Nowadays, I roast beets every other week or so for salads and grain bowls. This salad in particular is a favorite. It keeps for several days in the fridge, getting better and better as it sits, and is perfect for pre-portioned lunches. Simply add a cup or so of the salad to the bottom of a mason jar and fill the rest of the container with arugula or baby kale. 

Roasted Beet and French Lentil Salad with Capers and Walnuts

Serves 2-3 (doubles easily)

2 medium red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes or wedges*
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup French lentils
1 bay leaf (20-25 minutes, add big pinch salt at last 5 minutes)
4 cups water

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
fine sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

2 Tbs. capers, drained
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted + chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2-3 big handfuls arugula or baby kale, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 

Toss cubed beets with olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes, tossing halfway through, until brown around the edges and the interiors are just tender. 

While the beets are roasting, add lentils, water and bay leaf to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook for 20-24 minutes until the lentils are just tender, but not mushy. At the 15 minute mark, add a good pinch of sea salt. Drain well and remove bay leaf. 

To assemble the salad, add olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, a pinch of salt, and several grinds black pepper to the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Whisk until well incorporated. Add the warm lentils and beets, tossing gently to coat. Then mix in the capers, walnuts, and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 

Serve salad warm or room temperature on a bed of arugula or baby kale.

For lunches, transfer salad to individual containers - topping each serving with a handful of greens.

This salad will keep for several days in the fridge and gets better as it sits. 

Notes:

*When buying beets, opt for the bunches with the greens still attached. I find them to be more tender than the loose beets in the bulk bins. And you get a bonus - beet greens! Prep the stems and leaves like you would kale or Swiss chard. They're delicious simply sautéd with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.