I’m always on the lookout for recipes that I can make in one batch and eat for lunch all week. Lentils are a great basis for this, and help add protein and bulk to the dish. Plus, they freeze and reheat well so I can stash any leftovers for future lunches.
You can cook lentils just by boiling like pasta or rice (I’ve even made them in my rice cooker) but my favorite way to prepare them is by braising. I just saute them in aromatics for a minute or two like a risotto, then add liquid and simmer until they are tender. The quick saute actually helps the lentils hold their shape once tender, so instead of forming a mushy mass (which, honestly, I like too) they remain individual little discs.
This recipe is based on one for braised lentils with Swiss chard from the Kitchn. That one is delicious too–especially topped with an egg! But for my version, I decided to swap out the chard for beets. And I used every part: The beet root is roasted until tender, the stalks join the carrots and onion in a mirepoix variation, and the greens are wilted in at the end.
If you can’t find beets with the tops still attached, use two stalks of celery instead of the stems and wilt in 2-3 cups of spinach or baby kale at the end.
- 1 lb beets, tops reserved
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the tops from the beets, and separate the leaves from the stalks. Rinse the leaves thoroughly and drain in a colander or salad spinner, then chop roughly and set aside. Rinse and dry the stems, dice, and set aside. Rinse and dry the beets, peel them, and dice into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Toss the beets with 1 tbsp olive oil in a glass baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the beet stems, carrot and onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the garlic, lentils, bay leaf and thyme and cook one minute more, stirring constantly until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, about 20 minutes, until the lentils are just tender.
- Remove the bay leaf and add the beet greens. Cover the pan and cook about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the greens and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and taste again. Adjust as needed.
- Serve the lentils over brown rice or quinoa and top with the roasted beets.