French lentils with roasted beets and walnuts

French lentils and roasted beets

When I was a kid, people used to say, “that was beat.” That meant it was bad. I’m not sure if this was specific to where and when I grew up, or if it was more of universal phraseology, but it was quite prevalent amongst my peers. (When I was even younger, people used to say “feeling crunchy,” when somebody was put down or proven wrong. I’m fairly sure that was specific to my middle school! Ooooooh, feeeeeeling cruuuuuunchyyyyyy…”) So, if something was beat, it was bad. To use it in a sentence, “That party was so beat, because the music was beat, and the people were really beat, too.” I’ve decided to make it my life’s work, my raison d’etre, to bring the phrase back, but as a description of a good thing, and changing it slightly to “beet.” “That party was so beet, man, I never wanted to leave! My job is so great, it’s roasted beet. Awww, they’re my favorite band of all time…they’re golden beet.” Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking about this before bed, because I had a dream about beet brickle, which I think we can all agree I shouldn’t try to make. I also thought of this recipe, which turned out deeeeeelicious. Totally beet. It’s got french lentils cooked with a little red wine, orange juice and balsamic; it’s got lovely little roasted beets and shallots; it’s got toasted walnuts, for crunch; it’s got fresh basil, sage, and tarragon, for spring-herb-garden-deliciousness; and it’s got tiny cubes of mozzarella, which get nice and melty when they hit the warm lentils.

Crusty bread

We ate it with some fresh black pepper bread, and I’m extremely excited about it. As you know, if you’ve been following along at home, I’ve been trying for some time to make a crispy-crusted bread that doesn’t have a dense crumb. I wanted big airy holes inside. Well…I think I’ve done it! I left the dough very very wet and soft. It was messy to knead, I tell you. And I let it rise the last time, in the pan I baked it in, for well over an hour. Oh boy!! Look at the airy crumb on this baby! It’s soooooo beeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Crusty bread

Here’s LL Cool J (and Adam Horowitz!) with I Need a Beet


1 cup french lentils
2 T olive oil
1 garlic scape (or one clove garlic)
1 t dried sage
1 t dried rosemary
1 t tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine
1/4 cup orange juice
2 t balsamic
1 T butter
salt & plenty of pepper
3 medium-sized beets (plus their greens) peeled and chopped into 1/3 inch dice.
1 medium shallot – diced
1/2 cup walnuts – toasted and chopped
1 cup mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup mixed fresh basil, sage and tarragon

Preheat the oven to 425. Spread the beets and shallots on a baking tray, and roast for 20 minutes to half an hour till they’re getting dark and a crispy. Set them aside.

Wash the beet greens in several changes of water. Drop them into boiling salted water, and cook till wilted and soft. About ten or fifteen minutes. Drain them, chop them quite fine, and set them aside

Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic or scapes and the dried herbs. When the garlic starts to brown, add the lentils. Cook them for a few mintues, then add 1 1/2 cups of water and the red wine. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, till the lentils are cooked but not mushy, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the balsamic, butter, orange juice, salt and plenty of pepper. Tip the lentils into a pretty bowl. Stir in the beet greens and the mozzarella. Add the herbs, and mix them in gently. Top with the beets and walnuts. Serve with a fresh salad and some crusty bread.


1 t yeast
1 t sugar
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup flour

2 cups flour
1 t salt
lots of black pepper

Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let it sit for about five minutes, then stir in 1/2 a cup of flour. Let it sit for an hour till it gets all fluffy and bubbly. Add the rest of the flour, the salt and the pepper. Now you’re going to stir/knead it for about 5 – 7 minutes. Your hands will get messy. I found it helped to use my knuckles, and to keep them wet, so they slipped off the sticky dough. Then set it aside in a coolish place for 2 hours to rise.

Fold it over a few times and then set it aside again. This time for about an hour.

Prepare your pan. Coat the bottom with olive oil. Put your dough in a messy mound. Let it sit about an hour and a half. It should grow to fill a nine-inch cake pan, and make a mound over the top.

Preheat the oven to 500. Very gently brush the top of the dough with water, and scatter water on the bottom of the oven. Bake the bread for about half an hour, till it’s crispy and crunchy on top. Every few minutes, especially at first, pour a little water on the bottom of the oven.

Using a spatula, loosen the bottom of the bread from the pan.



14 thoughts on “French lentils with roasted beets and walnuts

    • Thanks for your comment! I think it would be nice for a summer lunch, as you suggest, because it’s just as good at room temp as it is fresh off the stove/out the oven.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    • Thanks, It did turn out pretty good! I accidentally left a piece in the toaster for three days, and it was still quite nice!! I’m waiting to hear back on the meat in the fig/shallot dish. I’ll let you know!

      • But oh dear – why does it have to be the wet sticky dough that works? I so hate kneading that…

      • It was actually more like stirring, I suppose. It was a bit messy, though! But you’ve been through the mud and muck!

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