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I love this nourishing autumn salad with its vibrant colours and enriching textures. The warming aromatic harissa paste adds a lightly scented and spicy, fragrant depth to this dish. The incredible array of colours – vibrant purple, deep orange, crisp white and deep green -gives this dish merriment and soul.

Beluga lentils are one of my new favourite finds. They are slighly smaller than puy lentils and have a creamy interior. These shiny black pearls are said to resemble cavier, and as their skins gleams when coated with oil, health seems to radiate from them. Another bonus is that they also hold their shape nicely, which make them ideal for salads.

Nutritionally, lentils are an excellent source of plant protein and are also good for folic acid, fibre and many trace minerals. They help to lower cholesterol and manage blood sugar disorders by preventing blood sugar rising too rapidly after a meal, so they are deal great for people who are diabetic or on a low GI diet.

Serves approximately 4-6

Ingredients 

  • 125 grams beluga or puy lentils, cooked in a light stock
  • 2 dessertspoons of olive oil
  • 1 dessertspoon of honey
  • 1 rounded dessertspoon harissa paste (I use Belazu rose harissa)
  • 200 grams young or baby carrots
  • 200 grams young parsnip or parsley root
  • 200 grams pre-cooked beetroot
  • 2 red pepper, cut chunky
  • 2 red onions, cut into quarters
  • 50 grams baby spinach or watercress
  • 100 grams of your favourite goats cheese (I like a mild, creamy cheese in this salad, Here I have used Fivemiletown goats cheese)
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Diabetic friendly
  • Low GI
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan option: Omit cheese

Method

  1. Mix together olive oil, harissa and honey. Set aside until ready to use
  2. Wash and rinse lentils and place in a hot stock, simmer for 15- 20 minutes until lentils are cooked but still have a slight bite. Drain immediately in a colander and transfer to a bowl. Splash a dollop of good quality olive oil over lentils and season with freshly cracked pepper and sea salt. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Pre-heat oven 200 C. Place all veggies in a large mixing bowl. Coat with harissa dressing gently massaging until vegetables are easily coated. Spread out on 1-2 large trays, be careful not to overcrowd the vegetables or they will steam rather than roast. Place in oven 20 to 30 minutes until tender and lightly caramelized.
  4. Remove from oven and toss gently in with lentils. Mix in baby spinach and transfer to a serving dish. Crumble in the goats cheese. Serve warm or room temperature.

Maggie's Tips

  • If you cannot source beluga, puy lentils work equally well.
  • This salad works great as a main course or side dish and is lovely in a lunch box.
  • To vary this dish, omit cheese and add any of the folowing pre-cooked choices: organic salmon broken into chunks, meaty dublin bay prawns, chicken thighs or breasts, boned and marinated in the harisa paste then roasted in the oven, vegetable paneer – also marinated in the harissa paste and cooked.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • This salad will keep up to 3 days in your fridge