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French Lentil & Beet Salad with Garlicky Walnuts

Serves 6

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    Boiled green lentils tossed with crunchy carrots and a biting Dijon dressing is an iconic French side dish to eat alongside a piece of poached salmon or chicken. But it often looks like a stodgy brown mess. This recipe dresses up those drab legumes with all the colors of the spring rainbow: pink radishes, green sugar snaps, and garnet (or golden) roasted beets. The latter can be roasted a few days in advance to save time, and you can do the rest of the chopping and whisking while the lentils cook. The salad is finished with a little Italian flair—balsamic vinaigrette and torn basil. Garlicky walnuts add crunch, and if you’re angling for another carb companion, add shaved parmesan or ricotta salata.

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    MAKE IT A MEAL: Bulk up this salad by tossing it with marinated kale or baby arugula, or serve it alongside chicken, fish, or grilled portobellos.

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    French Lentil & Beet Salad with Garlicky Walnuts

      Ingredients

      • 4 medium beets (1 pound), scrubbed
      • Sea salt
      • 1 cup dried small French green lentils (Puy lentils), rinsed
      • 1 bay leaf
      • 1 shallot, unpeeled, halved
      • ½ cup thinly sliced red radishes (8 ounces)
      • ½ cup thinly sliced sugar snap peas (4 ounces)
      • ¾ cup Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
      • 2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • 1 cup chopped raw unsalted walnuts
      • ½ cup loosely packed torn basil leaves
      Basic balsamic vinaigrette
      • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
      • ½ teaspoon sea salt
      • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

      Directions

      01

      Preheat the oven to 375°F.

      02

      Divide the beets between two 10-inch squares of aluminum foil, season generously with salt, and wrap so the beets are sealed—taking care not to puncture the foil. You want all the steam kept inside. Place the packets on a baking sheet and roast the beets until fork-tender, about 1 hour. Let the beets cool to room temperature, then slip off their skins. This can be done a few days in advance.

      03

      Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils, bay leaf, and shallot. Turn the heat to medium and simmer until al dente, about 15 minutes. Drain the lentils and shake out as much moisture as possible. Discard the bay leaf and shallot. Transfer to a large bowl.

      04

      Finely dice the beets and add to the bowl with the lentils, along with the radishes, snap peas, and ½ cup vinaigrette. Toss to combine. The salad can be made a day ahead up to this point, covered, and refrigerated.

      05

      In a small skillet, heat a thin layer (1/8 inch) of oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and walnuts and sauté until the nuts are toasted and the garlic is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt.

      06

      Taste the lentils for seasoning, and add more salt or dressing, as needed (especially if it’s cooled). Top with the torn basil and garlicky toasted nuts. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

      07

      Basic balsamic vinaigrette

      In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and salt until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon oil and whisk vigorously until combined. Repeat twice more with another teaspoon of oil. Once the oil is assimilating easily, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil, whisking throughout. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt or oil, as needed. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

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