We usually think of parsnips as a vegetable to eat with Sunday dinner or to turn into a soup but they are equally good in a warm salad. To save time, roast the parsnips and cook the lentils in advance and warm them through before assembling.
4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
100g puy or beluga lentils
1 shallot, peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
For the dressing
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
½ clove garlic, finely chopped
Leaves of 2 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon mustard
Salt and black pepper
For the salad
10 walnuts, lightly toasted
1. Toss the parsnips in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 until they are golden and you can easily pierce them with a fork (30-45 minutes).
2. Cook the lentils with the shallot and bay leaf in lots of cold water until the lentils are cooked but still holding their shape (see note on how to cook lentils below). Drain and season lightly with salt and black pepper.
3. Mix the ingredients for the dressing together. Add a little more olive oil if you need to balance the acidity or add a little more vinegar to balance the oil. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. The dressing should be sharper than you like it or it will get lost in the salad.
4. Assemble the salad: Add the dressing to the warm lentils and toss. Finish the salad with the warm roast parnsips and toasted walnuts and toss again.
– Serve the salad warm or cold.
– The salad will last for up to 3 days in the fridge though the parsnips will soften.
– Use any nuts: toasted almond nibs; cashews; hazelnuts or pine nuts
– Add golden sultanas or raisins; slivers of dried apricot; dried cranberries or sour cherries or fresh orange segments.
– Serve the lentil salad on top of a bed of gem lettuce or maché leaves for a more substantial meal.
– Add finely chopped fried bacon or pancetta to the lentils.
– Fry thinly sliced onions in hot oil until crispy, drain and sprinkle on top.
– Make it spicy by adding one finely chopped red chilli (with or without seeds) to the dressing.
How to Cook Lentils
Rinse the lentils in cold water. Put them in a saucepan with lots of cold water (a ratio of 1 part lentils to 4 parts cold water) and bring the water to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and when the lentils are cooked but still holding their shape, drain and season with salt and black pepper. Never add salt to the lentils (or any bean) before it is cooked as it toughens the skin. Lentils take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to cook depending on how old they are – check them every 10 minutes.
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