Do you love lentils? I certainly do. But if you think they’re boring, or you’ve been avoiding them out of fear that someone will call you a ‘lentil-knitting vegan’ (this is a phrase taken from actual life, I kid you not), then this is the dish for you.
It’s so simple to make, yet incredibly tasty and surprisingly exciting in its range of flavours – all from just a few simple ingredients.
But don’t be deceived by the simplicity of this recipe. Although it’s super easy to make, the flavour combinations in this Balsamic Beetroot, Sausage & Lentil Bowl are not only beautifully complex, but they also pack a very pleasing punch.
Here are some of the taste bud delights you’ll be enjoying from this dish:
- earthy richness, from the beetroot, lentils and sausage;
- sweetness, from the orange, garlic and roasted tomatoes;
- fragrance, from the fennel, coriander seeds and thyme;
- pepper, from the rocket and cayenne; and
- the tang of dark acidity from the balsamic vinegar, which cuts a dashing streak through the bowl.
Fennel and orange are classic partners in crime, and they work together wonderfully here to lift the dish from one of humble lentil origins to something quite special.
One of my favourite things about this recipe is how the sunflower seeds not only add a lovely crunch with the coriander seeds, but they soak up the tasty balsamic vinegar – giving you delicious little crunches of zing with each bite.
As you’ll know, as well as being plant-based, my approach to recipe-development (and eating, of course!) is centred on using whole ingredients – naturally. But every now and again I just fancy cooking some sausages. So when I do, I love to use vegan brands like Tofurky, Fieldroast or Wheaty Chorizo, which are all organic and (aside from Fieldroast), now widely available in the UK.
The Tofurky ‘Spinach Pesto’ sausages featured in this recipe also don’t really require any cooking, so you can just pop them onto the tray once all the veggies are cooked: how simple is that?
This is a really great meal to throw together when you want something for dinner that’s going to taste great and fill everyone up, but not require much effort in the kitchen. As with my Warm Cavolo Nero, Squash & Almond Salad, I like to think of this dish as summer comfort food: part salad, part roasted, caramelised wonderful vegetables, all mingling together in a bowl.
The inclusion of orange and thyme certainly lift the recipe and give it a floral, summery taste – which in the colder months can be swapped for something more robust like fresh chilli and sage.
Are you a tahini fan? I really love sesame seed paste for its versatility, gentle flavour and lightness in place of nut-based dressings; and it makes a wonderful addition to this bowl. You can check out some more recipes using tahini here and here.
What’s your favourite way to use this great ingredient in your kitchen?
- For the beetroot:
- 4 beetroots (organic if possible, roughly 200g)
- 2 tsp good olive oil
- 3 tsp good balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- For the fennel:
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 4-6 cloves of garlic
- 2 tsp good olive oil
- Juice of ½ an orange (organic or unwaxed)
- 4 spinach pesto tofurkey sausages (or your favourite alternative)
- For the dressing:
- 3 tbsp tahini
- Zest & juice of ½ an orange (organic or unwaxed)
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the bowl:
- 1 tin puy lentils (400g / 240g drained weight)
- 70g rocket
- Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
- Peel the beetroots and cut each into 4 wedges. Combine in a tin with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sunflower seeds, coriander seeds and thyme and place on the top shelf of the oven.
- Zest the orange and put aside for now.
- Slice the fennel and cut the tomatoes each into 8 segments. Peel and cut the onion into wedges. Arrange all of these on a baking tray with the olive oil and juice of half of the orange. Place on the middle shelf of the oven.
- After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Stir the beetroot mixture and return to the top shelf. Stir the fennel mixture and add the cloves of garlic, root ends sliced off (but skin intact). Return to the middle shelf.
- Cook for another 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients and adding the zest you put aside earlier.
- Rinse and drain the lentils and add these to a large bowl with the rocket.
- Slice the sausages.
- Remove the fennel tray from the oven and squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins. Stir in the sausages and return for another 5 minutes, just to heat the sausages through.
- To serve, combine all of the components with the lentils and rocket.