Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables

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I just can’t stop eating this salad. I made it at the beginning of the week and decided to wait a day to take pictures because of the rainy, cloudy skies and bad lighting. But then the weather never cleared up and I just kept going back to the frig to have another taste, and then another. Then suddenly (at least it seemed sudden) all the lentil salad was gone and I had to make it again. But it kept raining. And I couldn’t help myself and started eating it – one small bowl and then another. So I gave up and took some pictures with clouds overhead. Then I had a big bowl for lunch.

I love this lentil salad because it’s delicious and easy to make. I love it for lunch and I love for it dinner. I love having it in the frig so I can have a little bite or two when I need a quick fix. I love that I can go to the market and find whatever root vegetables look good and that no matter what I put into it, it still works.

The lentils need to be cooked perfectly so that they are tender but not mushy. In other words, they have to be a tiny bit firm. I use vegetable broth because I think it enriches the lentils with flavor and extra nutrients. The caramelized sweet potatoes and other root vegetables (I used some beautiful parsnips) are the perfect balance for the mild, earthy lentils. The dressing combines the sweet warmth of maple syrup, a grainy country Dijon mustard to add some pungent sharpness, and a luscious, rich sherry vinegar from Spain, (although you could get by with something simpler like an apple cider vinegar). I also threw in a touch of nutmeg to round out the flavor. Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables – simple, basic, good for you food. And really,  it’s good cold from the frig. I know.

Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables

4-6 servings

4 cups sweet potato and other assorted root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup red onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth (plus additional water)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (preferably from Spain)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons “country-style” French Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Position rack in middle of oven. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine vegetables, oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper; toss until vegetables are will coated. Spread the vegetables out on the prepared baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned and caramelized, 20 minutes.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, put lentils and broth in a heavy 2 quart sauce pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and cook, stirring occasionally until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 – 25 minutes. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup more water if lentils are drying out before they are finished cooking. Remove lentils from heat as soon as they done and while they still have a bit of firmness to them (drain any extra liquid, if there is any, at that point). Spoon lentils into a large bowl.
  4. While lentils and vegetables are cooking, prepare the dressing: whisk olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  5. Spoon cooked vegetables on top of lentils. Add dressing and gently toss to coat evenly. Add additional salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Serve warm.

Lentil salad can be made ahead and stored in refrigerator for up to three days in a tightly sealed container. Leftovers can be stored in refrigerator for up to three days. Rewarm very slightly in microwave.

 

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