WINE BRAISED LENTILS WITH BEETROOT AND ROOT VEGETABLES:
gluten free Serves 4 - 6
Brown and green lentils are not as
easy to work with as you think - their extreme astringency
needs tempering to provide a full flavoured and satisfying
end result. Enter the root vegetables carrot, parsnip
and especially beetroot whose sweetness does the job
beautifully. The inherent sweetness in shallots is also
bought out by browning in butter, adding further depth
of flavour. You could use only olive oil for this dish,
but it wouldn't be anywhere near as good - butter really
softens the astringent lentil.
Kitchen Notes: If you've found young
heirloom carrots of all colours at the Farmers Market,
this is a great way to use them. Simply wash them, if
they are very young and fresh, they won't need peeling,
and use whole. Whilst you can use the larger brown lentils,
this is best with the small green or black lentils.
12 very small beetroot, preferably bought in bunches
with leaves intact.
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large, or 8 small parsnips
8 small carrots / 300gm - scrubbed and left whole
2 tablespoon butter or ghee
2 stems fresh rosemary
4 - 5 small bay leaves
3 - 4 stems fresh thyme
10 - 12 shallots, peeled and left whole
5 cloves garlic - peeled (the large garlic is wonderful
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup small green lentils - checked for stones,
3 cups vegetable stock
4 juniper berries (optional)
1 tablespoon quince paste, or mirin
Pre Heat oven to 200c or 180c if fan forced.
Add the 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter or
ghee, to a large pot or 24cm French oven, and heat.
Add the rosemary, bay leaves, shallots and garlic -
it should sizzle a little, then reduce the heat, though
it should still be medium high. Continue to cook for
approx 10 mins, stir every now and then, but resist
stirring too often - the onions need continued contact
with the base to develop colour, and to caramelise.
Add the wine, tomato paste, pepper, lentils, stock and
juniper berries, and stir through.
Continue to simmer without a lid for 45 mins - 1 hour,
stirring every now and then, and the liquid is now a
sauce. Taste and balance with a bit of quince paste
or mirin if required.
Once the sauce is on, trim the leaves from the beetroot,
keeping the smaller and healthier ones - put these aside
for later - you should have a healthy handful. Wash
the beetroot well, but don't peel. Place in a small
baking dish or cast iron French oven, and drizzle with
1 tablespoon oil and add 1/2 cup water. If your beetroot
is larger, still bake them whole. Cover with a lid or
foil and bake until soft when pierced with the tip of
knife - approx 30 min- 11/2 hours, this will depend
on how big they are.
Peel the parsnips and trim off the skinny tips. Cut
the remaining vegetable into 2 - 3 segments of equal
length, depending on the size of the parsnip. Quarter
the thickest section and remove the woody core. Halve
the middle section and keep the last section whole.
If the parsnips are very young, fresh and small, simply
cut them in half, lengthwise. If your carrots are large,
cut as for the parsnips, but don't worry about removing
the core. Place the carrots and parsnips on a baking
tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper
and mix through so the oil is well distributed. Place
in oven and bake until cooked and golden - approx 30mins.
When the beetroots are cooked, let cool a little before
peeling off the skin - you might like to do this with
gloves, so your hands don't get stained. If the beetroots
are large, cut into smaller pieces.
The dish can be held at this point before putting
together, though the roast vegetables are best when
taken freshly from the oven.
Just before serving, heat a frypan with the remaining
butter or ghee and over a high heat, wilt the beetroot
On a large platter arrange the roast vegetables, top
this with half of the wilted leaves, and spoon the lentils
over this. Top with the remaining leaves, sprinkle with
parsley and serve.
Time Saving: Roast extra beetroot
for weekday salads and sandwiches