French lentils with roasted beetroot and pancetta

<i>Serves 4-6</i>
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

You need French lentils (versus brown, red or yellow) for this recipe as they still have their seed coat so don't easily turn to mush. Although you could use red beetroot, I prefer golden because it doesn't dye everything they touch a shade of pink. To keep the fried pancetta crisp, pack it for the picnic in a separate container, tossing it with the salad at the last minute.

You need French lentils (versus brown, red or yellow) for this recipe as they still have their seed coat so don't easily turn to mush. Although you could use red beetroot, I prefer golden because it doesn't dye everything they touch a shade of pink. To keep the fried pancetta crisp, pack it for the picnic in a separate container, tossing it with the salad at the last minute.

450g/1lb golden beetroot, trimmed
350g/12oz dried French lentils
1/4 of a small onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
8 slices pancetta (or bacon)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
60g/2oz crumbled fresh goat cheese (optional)

For the dressing

120ml/4fl oz virgin olive oil
60ml/2fl oz red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6. Place the beetroot in a roasting pan and fill with about 1cm ( 1/2in) of water. Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the centre of a beetroot indicates that it's cooked through. Remove from the oven, let cool and slip the skins off. Cut into 1cm (0.5in) cubes.

Rinse the lentils, removing any pebbles. Place in a pan with water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender (they'll still be slightly firm). Remove from the heat and sit for 10 minutes. Drain off remaining water in a colander and remove the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Let cool.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the pancetta or bacon . Sauté for five to 10 minutes, or until crisp. Remove to a paper towel, let cool. Use your hands to crumble.

To make the dressing: whisk together the oil and vinegar with the garlic. Season to taste and let sit for about 10 minutes to infuse the garlic, whisking again before dressing the lentils. Remove the garlic.

To assemble: toss together the lentils, beetroot and parsley, adding the dressing as desired. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Toss with the pancetta and goat cheese just before serving.

Comments