Roasted Beet, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnuts

Fresh, healthy, and delicious.  Those words perfectly describe this wonderful salad from Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi's book, Around the World in 120 Salads.  Both hearty, from the beets and lentils, and delicate, from the goat cheese and nuts, it strikes the perfect blend for chilly Fall dinners.  Try it with tomato soup...a great combination.

Ingredients:

  • 5 raw medium beets
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 14-ounce can cooked lentils
  • 1 celery stalk, finely sliced on the diagonal, plus a few leaves
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, tough stems discarded, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 2/3 cup crumbled goat curd, soft goat cheese, or feta cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon raw mild honey

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Peel and cut the beets into wedges about an inch across at their thickest.  Toss with 2 tablespoons of oil and seasoning in a bowl and then transfer to a small baking sheet (keep the bowl for the onion).  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Put the walnuts onto a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes or until lightly roasted and browned.  Remove and set aside to cool.
  4. Put the onion in the bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil to coat.  Set aside.
  5. When the beet has had 30 minutes of cooking, remove the foil and add the onion, tossing them with the beets.  Return to the oven, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes until softened and lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a plate.
  6. Put the lentils into a bowl, add the dressing ingredients and seasoning, and toss through.  When the beets and onions are done, add these and any cooking juices to the lentils and toss together, then leave to cool to room temperature.
  7. Stir in the celery and parsley, spoon in the curd or crumble the cheese on top, and serve with a little extra parsley, olive oil, and freshly ground pepper.

Source:  Around the World in 120 Salads, by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi