Lentil Salad with Beets
This hearty salad is on the menu at Elio's in Manhattan -- one of Martha's favorite Italian restaurants.
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, quartered, plus 1/4 cup very finely chopped carrot
- 1 stalk celery, quartered
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 5 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups dried French green lentils
- 5 medium beets, scrubbed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 thick slices slab bacon, very finely chopped
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- 4 half-inch-thick slices fresh goat cheese, optional
In a medium saucepan, combine onion, quartered carrot, celery, bay leaf, and 5 cups water; cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add lentils, and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, and discard the seasonings.
Meanwhile, place beets in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking until fork-tender. Remove saucepan from heat. Remove beets from water, and set aside until cool enough to handle, reserving cooking liquid. Peel, and return beets to cooking liquid until ready to serve.
Make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together mustard, honey, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Still whisking, slowly add 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; set aside.
In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped carrot and bacon. Cook until the color of the bacon has changed, about 1 minute. Add the cooked lentils, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the lentils are heated through. Drizzle with red-wine vinegar, and stir to combine. Transfer lentils to a medium bowl.
Place greens in a medium bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette, tossing to combine. Divide greens among four plates. Top with warm lentils. Place a slice of goat cheese on the lentils. Slice beets and arrange around the perimeter of the plates; serve immediately.