Warm Lentil, Beetroot and Fennel Salad (GF) (V)

, from Issue #109. May, 2023
Warm Lentil, Beetroot and Fennel Salad (GF) (V)

This combination of flavours is bloody delicious!

Serves: 4


12 small baby beetroot
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 large fennel bulbs, stems trimmed, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 cups dried green lentils
2 bay leaves
sprig each mint and rosemary
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup caramelised onions (store-bought or see recipe below)

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup soft herbs (I used a combination of mint and basil but you could also use parsley and coriander)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium red onions, sliced thinly
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-2 teaspoons caster sugar, to taste
small pinch chilli flakes, optional
black pepper, to taste

350 grams buffalo mozzarella
¾ cup nuts roasted with a little olive oil, use walnuts, pine nuts or almonds or a combination


Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan bake.

Line 2 baking trays with foil. Put the beetroot in the centre of 1 piece of foil, drizzle with oil and vinegar and sprinkle over the fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Draw the foil up around the beetroot and fold in the sides to create a sealed parcel. Repeat with the fennel, oil, wine, lemon zest, salt and pepper in the other piece of foil. Roast both for about 40-45 minutes until both are soft and tender (the fennel may be cooked earlier than the beetroot). Remove from the oven and set aside.

Cook the lentils and herbs in a large pot of simmering water for about 20 minutes or until just cooked. Drain, discard the herbs then stir through the oil, vinegar, lemon zest and caramelised onions and season with salt and pepper. Trim and peel the beetroot while still warm. (Use disposable gloves to avoid bright pink fingers!).

HERB OIL: Place all the ingredients in a small food processor and blitz to combine. Season well with salt and pepper.

TO SERVE: Add ⅔ of the nuts to the lentils, and transfer to a serving plate then top with the beetroot and fennel. Add the mozzarella torn into large chunks, a drizzle of herb oil, the remainder of the nuts and a final sprinkle of salt and pepper.

FOR THE CARAMELISED ONIONS: Heat the oil in a big heavy-based pot. Add the onions, salt and pepper, and cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Add the balsamic vinegar, sugar and chilli flakes. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool, then spoon into a sealable jar or container. This should make about 1½ cups.