Beetroot, Lentil, Celeriac & Hazelnut Salad

The sun is refusing to set, even though it’s after midnight, and spreads a drowsy light over everything. I’m in an idyllic spot, sitting on a jetty that stretches from a small island in Stockholm’s archipelago. My hostess is serving supper. The sheer simplicity of it makes it as beautiful as the setting. There are no candelabras – there aren’t even serving dishes – just tea lights and an array of saucepans.

The buttery potatoes are covered in a shower of dill, the salmon has come straight from the smoker, there’s a bowl of cool soured cream (of course there is). Then we lift a lid to find drained beets: vermillion globes that we peel ourselves and eat warm with the soured cream. The flesh is sweet, and yielding but firm – cutting beetroot is very satisfying.

Scandinavians love beetroot – they are to them what carrots are to us – and Americans do too. (There you find beetroot in salads with goat’s cheese, nuts and oranges. They love them so much that they just call them beets, like they’re an old friend.)

Russians love beetroot too, in meaty soups, in purées to eat with game, or diced and anointed with soured cream. In Georgia, beetroot is pounded with nuts, garlic, coriander, a little cayenne and red wine vinegar to produce a rough mixture that can be eaten as part of a zakuski spread, similar to meze.

With this wealth of possibilities, why on earth did we British end up pickling beetroot? This, for years, was how we knew it – the dark circles of colour on our salad plates, the ingredient that stained everything it touched.

Now things have changed. Not only are we boiling and roasting beetroot, we’re buying different colours – candy-striped ones that, once cut, reveal concentric circles of deep pink and pale pink, and also golden ones (and all my recipes will work with these, if you find them). A salad with beetroot can now mean a plate of wafer- thin crunchy discs tossed with vinaigrette and poppy seeds.

The beetroot’s sweetness is its greatest asset, and also its failing. In order to temper it, serve it with ingredients that bring out its earthiness and savouriness (such as lentils, fennel or celeriac), and foods that contrast with it (try yogurt, soured cream, tangy goat’s cheese). I wouldn’t say no to some sweet pickled beetroot (especially if there’s herring or roast pork nearby), but there’s so much more you can do with it. – @DianaHenryFood

Serves: 6-8 as a side dish
Prep: 20 Minutes
Cook: 2 hours

A lovely, wintry salad that you can serve warm or cold.


Ingredients

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
175g Puy lentils
650ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
1 lemon, juiced
400g celeriac
35g hazelnuts, halved and toasted
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the dressing
1 tbsp red wine vinegar 3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp crème de cassis
good pinch of sugar 41/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (a fruity one, not a grassy Tuscan one)
90ml hazelnut oil


Directions

1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Scrub the beets but don’t peel them. Put them in a roasting tin lined with plenty of foil, drizzle with olive oil and season. Pull the foil around them to make a kind of tent (don’t wrap the beets tightly) and seal the edges. Bake for 1-2 hrs until completely tender right through – the time will depend on the size of the beets. 

2. To make the dressing, combine the vinegar and mustard in a jug, then season. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until amalgamated. 

3. Put the lentils in a pan with the stock, bay and thyme. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a very gentle simmer. Cook for 12-15 mins until the lentils are just tender. The stock will be absorbed as the lentils cook (if this happens before the lentils are ready, just add some boiling water). Drain the lentils (if there is any liquid left) and set aside.

4. Fill a bowl with water and add the lemon juice. Peel the celeriac and cut it into matchsticks, dropping them into the acidulated water to stop the flesh discolouring. Steam or boil the celeriac until just tender. 

5. Peel the cooked beets and cut the flesh into small wedges or matchsticks. Drain the celeriac and pat dry. Discard the bay and toss the lentils with the celeriac, hazelnuts, parsley and most of the dressing. Season to taste, then transfer to a serving dish. Season the beets and add them to the salad, spooning the rest of the dressing over the top.

Per Serving:
383 kcals
28g fat
3g
saturates
17g carbs
5g sugars
8g
fiber 
9g protein 

0.6g salt

Recipe Credit: BBC Good Food 

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