Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekly Lunch: Lemon-Tahini Lentil Salad

I learned something about myself this week: I do not like roasted turnips. Admitting I don't like a certain food, especially a healthy vegetable, is not something I do very often, but I just don't see any way around it.

Poor turnips, object of so many childrens' hatred, and now mine too. At least the full-grown turnips. Baby turnips, on the other hand, can be quite tasty. I've made this recipe for Orechiette with Baby Turnips and their Greens (from In Praise of Sardines) several times, and it is a wonderful combination of the earthy (yet mild!) baby turnips, the slightly bitter greens, a touch of salt from some pecorino cheese, and heat from red chili flakes.

So, if you ever see baby turnips (about 1" in diameter), I do recommend them. Full-sized turnips, however, well, I'll have to try them again sometime. But not for a while.

Before I knew my true feelings for (full-sized) turnips, my big plan for this week's salad was to roast some turnips and carrots, and mix them with some lentils that I tossed with a simple lemon-tahini dressing. I used a base of baby spinach and topped the salad with a few salted pistachio nuts and a hard boiled egg. But the turnips were so gross (sorry to offend anyone who likes turnips - maybe you could share a recipe you like?) that after Monday's lunch I knew I had to come up with something else.

The roasted turnips looked so promising...

Even the carrots were contaminated with the taste of turnips. I felt bad, but I had to throw them out. Fortunately the lentils were good, so for the next few days' lunches, I added more spinach, more pistachios, and I chopped up a few dried apricots. The extra pistachios and the sweetness from the apricots really helped balance the earthy lentils, and I definitely wasn't missing the turnips.

This version was definitely tastier.

So there we have it. A gross lunch turned into a tasty one. And please, if you like turnips, I would love to hear how you cook them!

Lemon-Tahini Lentil Salad
Makes 4 main-dish servings

1 to 1 1/3 cups dried lentils, picked though and rinsed (I used French green lentils, but regular brown ones will work)
4 hard-boiled eggs
4-6 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
Several dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup salted pistachio nuts

Juice of one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tahini paste
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Simmer the lentils in lightly salted water until tender, drain any excess water and set aside to cool.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Toss half of the dressing with the lentils and save the rest in a small container.

In the morning (or the night before), place a few handfuls of baby spinach in your lunch container. Add 1/4 of the lentils. Top with pistachios, diced apricots, and a sliced hard boiled egg. Drizzle with a bit of extra dressing right before serving.



  1. yum...i love tahini and lentils mixed together. have you ever tried lentil hummus? it's pretty lovely with the tahini.

    i've only had turnips, full sized, roasted. Baby turnips sound interesting, though

  2. Lentil hummus sounds delicious, but I have not tried it!

    Maybe I just need to keep trying turnips, and eventually I'll learn to like them :)

  3. I've been practicing my roasting skills - and roasted parsnips a couple of weeks ago - but I have to admit that I'm rather rusty! I don't know that I've ever eaten a turnip... let alone a roasted one...

  4. I actually have not ever had turnips...not sure I want to now! Your salad looks great though!


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