Tomorrow morning marks the beginning of the BlogHer Food conference here in Seattle, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Over the course of the next few days, I will have the opportunity to connect with food bloggers from across the country while learning from some of the best. The weekend will include sessions on nearly every aspect of blogging, though I am most looking forward to those focusing on growing a career in food writing. It is a joy to develop recipes and share them with you here on this site, and I would love to be able to do that through even more avenues (such as magazines, online publications, and – maybe someday – a cookbook!).
Before heading out, I’d like to share with you these colorful and nutritious Lentil-Beet Lettuce Wraps. This was my first time roasting beets, and now I don’t think I’ll prepare them any other way! They’ve often been accused of tasting like dirt, but the slow cooking process helps to mellow their earthiness, bringing their sweet notes to the forefront.
There are several ingredients in the mix here with each contributing an important element of flavor and texture. The crunchy almonds, the crisp red onion, the bright citrus, the tangy goat cheese – every one adds dimension and interest. Lentils make it hearty, and the butter lettuce serves as a fun and healthy way to wrap it all up.
- 2 large red beets
- Olive oil for drizzling
- 1 cup dry lentils, any variety
- 2/3 cup whole raw almonds
- 3 medium navel oranges or other variety
- 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 2/3 cup finely diced red onions
- 1 large head butter lettuce
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees.
- Rinse, dry, and trim the beets (don’t worry about peeling), then drizzle them with olive oil and wrap them loosely in a sheet of aluminum foil, creating a pouch. Place onto a metal baking sheet and bake for 65-75 minutes until a fork inserts easily. Once cooked, remove the beets from the oven, open the foil pouch to allow steam to escape, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then, using the edge of a knife, gently peel away the skin of the beets and discard. Cut the beets into julienne strips and set aside.
- While the beets are roasting, prepare the lentils. Fill a medium saucepan 2/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add the lentils and cook for 25-30 minutes until they reach the desired tenderness. Drain the lentils in a colander in the sink and season generously with salt while they are still warm.
- Heat a dry skillet over medium high heat until hot, then add the almonds and toast for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent burning. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool, then give the nuts a coarse chop.
- Cut all of the oranges into supremes by first using a sharp knife to cut the peel from both ends just until the pulp of the orange is exposed. Place the fruit on end on a cutting board, then slice the peel and pith away from the sides, following the curve of the orange. Rotate the orange and continue cutting until all of the peel and pith has been removed. Next, cut out each segment of fruit by slicing along the dividing membranes. Discard the peel, pith, and membranes.
- Once the beets, lentils, almonds, and oranges have been prepared, place them in a large mixing bowl along with the goat cheese and red onions. In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper until incorporated and then drizzle over the top of the lentil-beet mixture. Use a wooden spoon to toss the ingredients together, adding more salt and/or pepper as needed to suit your taste. If desired, chill the mixture for a couple of hours.
- Remove the lettuce leaves from the core and gently plunge them into a large bowl of very cold water to remove any dirt. Use a clean kitchen cloth or a paper towel to dry the leaves, then serve them with the lentil-beet mixture.
Beet-roasting method adapted from Oh She Glows.
Tips and Tidbits
- The sweet acidity of the orange slices plays well with the caramelized beets, but grapefruit would easily serve the same purpose if you’d like to use that instead (just add more maple syrup if needed to balance its bitterness). In addition, if you don’t have almonds on hand, feel free to substitute pecans or walnuts for that element of crunch.
- I found it easiest to combine all of the filling ingredients together into a single mixture, but you could opt to separate the goat cheese and almonds, serving them as a topping, to achieve a more eye-catching presentation.