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Roasted Beet Salad with Pistachio & Orange

Roasted-Beet-Salad-With-LentilsI was having dinner recently with some friends when the topic of healthy eating came up. A girlfriend enthusiastically told everyone a nugget of wisdom she had learned from her farther: “to stay healthy, we need a rainbow of colour on our plate every day”.

Her dad had the right idea. If you read this blog with any regularity, this won’t be new to you, and you’ll also know why.

At this point, I should clarify something. To save myself immense frustration, I’ve learned over the years that when a nutrition topic comes up over the dinner table, unless my professional opinion is directly asked for, I sit back, keep quiet and pretend I know nothing.

Everyone nodded in agreement with her profound insight, saying it made logical sense to them. Then, as if to confirm the simplicity of the theory, they proceeded to list each colour one by one, along with a few corresponding fruit and vegetables.

Green. Well that’s easy, broccoli, beans and kale.

White. There’s cauliflower and onions.

Yellow. Simple! Bananas and yellow pepper.

Orange. Of course oranges, pumpkin, apricots.

Red. Red pepper and… tomato.

“We live in Italy and I love pizza, so I definitely don’t have a problem with red” one of the guys joked.

We laughed.


The conversation at the table died down for a few silent and satisfied seconds while people reflected on their mental achievement.

… Until someone asked the uncomfortable question: “What about Purple?”

More silence.

Deafening silence.

For the briefest of moments, anxious looks swept over the faces around the table like a Mexican wave. But I saw it. I’ve seen it many times before.

This one wouldn’t be as easy.

Then, in almost unison, seven curious faces turned and stared directly at me. I guess I would have to stop playing the observer and help out on this one.

I almost laughed. “Guys, purple isn’t as hard as it seems. Of course there are blueberries, although at the moment they aren’t in season. For now, your options are mostly plumbs, red-cabbage, and beets”.

Healthy Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets and Feta

“Oh yes beets!” another lady said, visibly relieved and excited to have her challenge dissolved so quickly. Then the smile faded as quickly as it came and a furrow crept over her brow… “but what on earth do I do with a beet?”

Everyone nodded in agreeance.

“How do you cook beets?”

Perhaps you’re wondering the same thing yourself.

There are endless delicious ways to prepare beet. I shared two of my favourite:

  • Make a Sexy Salad: Peel a raw beet and grate it directly into a salad. It turns the salad a gorgeous purple colour – hence the name.
  • Roast wedges of beet until they are sweet and caramelised and serve them alongside whichever dish you like.

What they asked for next I should have seen coming.

“Oooo roasted beet sounds great. Can you share a recipe with us?”

So much for being the passive observer.



Feeds 2

  • 4-6 medium sized raw beets
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup raw green or brown lentils
  • 40g raw unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 50g feta or goats cheese
  • ½ small red onion
  • Large handful fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from half an orange (around 2 tablespoons)
  • 1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic crushed

Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F

LENTILS: Place the lentils into a clean dry sieve. Pick over quickly and remove any foreign particles or stones. Rinse under running water and tip into a medium sized pot. Cover generously with water, place on the stove and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and let them cook gently for around 25 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary. Once done, drain the lentils and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the other ingredients.

BEETS: Scrub the beets, peel them and then rinse them once more to remove any dirt. Slice in half, and then slice each half into 3 wedges.

Place on a roasting tray, drizzle with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and around ½ cup water. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and cover tightly with aluminium foil.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, lift the foil lid, toss, add another ½ cup of water and place back into the oven for another 20-25 minutes, until cooked and caramelised.

NUTS: Use the hot oven to roast the pistachio nuts for 5 minutes while the beets are cooking. Place the nuts on a flat baking tray and place on an empty oven rack. Don’t forget to set your timer for this one as you don’t want to burn the nuts.

COLD INGREDIENTS: Peel the orange and slice into segments or chunks. Peel the red onion and slice into fine slices. Pick the mint leaves from the stalk, wash the leaves and slice.

DRESSING: Mix the olive oil, fresh orange juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and garlic into a small jar, seal with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine. Taste and adjust ingredients to suit your personal palate. It should be a little stronger than you’d prefer as it will lose some potency when poured over the salad.

ENSEMBLE: When all the ingredients are ready, tip the cooked lentils, roasted beet, orange segments, sliced onion and a few tablespoons of dressing together into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and a good crack of black pepper. Divide between two bowls and top with sliced mint, the roasted pistachio nuts and crumbled feta.

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Melanie Stephens, Optimum Nutrition in Paris

I’m Melanie Stephens a qualified nutritionist, chef and workout enthusiast who’s wildly passionate about helping people get healthy, lean and energised so they can lead truly exceptional lives of their own design.

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