Light, full of goodness, yet still a hearty meal
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 5 mins
IDEAL FOR: midweek meal, side
We made it into 2021… huzzah!
And there is some good news on the horizon with the vaccines.
But (in the UK) we definitely have a tough couple of months ahead with winter and tougher Covid restrictions.
It’s weird because usually you get to January and are so over socialising, eating and drinking.
You’re pretty happy to have a month of quiet, re-grouping.
Maybe even book in some trips away to get excited about.
And almost certainly trying to implement a healthier month… maybe going as far as joining a gym!
But this isn’t a normal January.
We can’t really book any trips in case we can’t or aren’t allowed to travel.
Gyms are closed (that’s a quiet blessing for those of us who really don’t want to join one).
And with Brexit thrown in, there are new complications with travelling to Europe.
And potential disruption our supply chain including some of the food we take for granted in the shops.
There’s no better time to really start thinking harder about buying local.
And really understanding the food seasons in the UK.
A perfect January dish to kick start 2021
January is always a bit of a tough month… cold, dark, back to work/school, a bit skint.
So, to keep us uplifted, good food (& I’d say wine), will keep us cheerful while we wait for Spring to show up.
And food that has lots of good nutrients.
And nice bright colours.
Which is why I’ve chosen a salad with beetroot and lots of other goodies.
But fear not, this dish is still hearty enough to fill us up.
Beetroot fast facts
Beetroot is in the same family as spinach.
You can eat both the leaves and the root.
Beets are sweetest and most tender between June to October.
It was first cultivated by the Romans.
In the 19th Century, Beetroot was highly valued as it was discovered they could convert into sugar.
They’re packed with essential nutrients – especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C.
And also are a source of folic acid, manganese and potassium.
They’re low in calories.
High in fibre.
Have anti-oxidant properties.
And, can help lower blood pressure.
What more could you want for in January!
What is a lardon?
In a nutshell, it’s a strip or cube of either uncured pork fat or salt-cured pork.
Lardons can add a delicious, saltiness, texture and richness without being heavy.
Crispy on the outside, meaty on the inside.
Is there a difference between bacon lardons & pancetta?
Both bacon and pancetta come from pork belly.
But differ in the way both are prepared, cured, and cooked.
The basic difference is the process of preparation, i.e. bacon is smoked and pancetta is not.
Pancetta is cured with salt (considered ‘cooking’).
Along with other spices like ground peppers, garlic, nutmeg, fennel, black pepper, etc.
And bacon is cured similarly but is also smoked through a cold-smoking process (without any cooking) so stays raw.
Lardons are great for topping salads, pasta, omelettes or even in a classic baked potato.
Cook lardons slowly over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered out.
But don’t turn your back on them or you’ll end up with hard crispy bits.
Do you have a New Year’s favourite recipe. Let me know…
Beetroot, green lentil and spinach salad with bacon lardons and goat’s cheese croûte
- 4 beetroot, sliced (buy in a jar or tinned)
- 3 large handfuls of spinach or watercress salad (or as much as you like)
- 1-2 peppers, sliced (red or yellow or both)
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar (any)
- 250 g green lentils (or beluga)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
Goat’s cheese croûte
- 2 garlic cloves
- 6 slices of baguette
- 6 1cm thick goats cheese
- 3 tbsp runny honey
- Cook the lentils (according to the packets instructions) but make sure they still have a little bite to them.Then drain and stir in the lemon, olive oil and sea salt. Set aside.
- Make the dressing and set aside until serving.
- Heat the grill. Cut your baguette into slices and brush with oil and in a frying pan with a little butter, toast on each side.When done and you can handle them, rub the crushed garlic on one side of the toasted slices (croûte).Now, place a slice of goats cheese on the garlic side of each croûte and drizzle with honey, then place under the grill until golden and melted.
- Slice you beetroot and peppers.Now, on a large serving platter, scatter your spinach (or watercress), beetroot, peppers and lentils and place your croûte's on top.Drizzle the dressing all over, season with pepper and a litlte salt and serve.