If you have some cooked lentils on hand, along with a bunch of beets with their tops, you’re on your way to a quick and tasty dinner. These Lentils and Beet Greens with Quick Pickled Beet are a marriage of satisfying earthiness offset by piquancy.
Yup, here I am with the lentils again. I can just see you, shaking your head, wondering what’s up with my fascination with these little legumes. You’ve heard it all before in my many posts on the subject (I feel a roundup coming on): they’re nutritious, easy to work with, a great conduit for all kinds of flavour profiles, cheap and awful darn cute too. What’s not to love about them?
When I made the lentils for my lentil and broccoli salad, I cooked up extra. There’s nothing like having some pre-cooked lentils on hand when you’re in the mood to whip up something tasty and healthy for dinner. Braising lentils with a ragtag assortment of other ingredients hanging around the fridge or pantry is a great way to use up and avoid food waste.
This time, I had some beets — along with their greens — that needed to be eaten. So I decided to cook some lentils with the greens, and create a side of quick-pickled grated beets. Oh yeah, sometimes I impress myself. So. Good. And that side of picked beet? It was great stirred right into the steaming heap of lentils and greens too. No need to always be dainty. Go ahead, mix your food up and tuck on in!
Lentils & Beet Greens with Quick-Pickled Beet
A Freestyle Kitchen Recipe
Okay, so this isn’t exactly a recipe; it’s one of those dishes that just happened in my kitchen, and isn’t that the best way to cook sometimes? So, here’s what I did to make myself a quick and kick-ass dinner on a summer evening that would be lost in memory now if not for this dish.
Quick Pickling Beets
First, get that beet a-pickling! Remove the greens from a bunch of beets and set aside. Wash and peel one or two small beets. How much is up to you, depending on how many you’re serving and whether you want leftovers. Shred the beets finely and place in a small bowl. Add olive oil (I probably used a half tablespoon or so for one small beet), white wine vinegar (red wine or apple cider vinegars would work too) so the beets are piquant without being puckerliciously so, and a good grating of pepper. Stir well and set aside for the pickling action to work its magic.
Making the Lentils and Beet Greens
Clean the beet greens and set aside. Finely chop some red onion and mince a red chili pepper. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to a small pan and heat over medium high heat. Add the onion and chili pepper and stir until the onions look translucent and happy. Add the beet greens along with a tablespoon or so or water or lentil cooking liquid if you have it handy. Cook and stir; you can also pop the lid on the pan for a bit of steaming action. It won’t take long for the greens to reduce down farther than you might think possible.
At this point, add whatever you consider the right amount of previously cooked lentils to be (I used about 1-1/2 cups of cooked green lentils for a super-hearty single serving), along with some kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir well, and cook until the lentils are heated through. Add some balsamic vinegar to bring up the zing factor. Stir, taste and adjust the seasonings to make your taste buds sing.
Heap onto a plate, and eat along with some of that pickled beet for a satisfying meal that will make you feel virtuous about your kitchen skills.