Spicy Roasted Carrots with Tahini Lentil Salad

January 29, 2018

Lentil salad with some sort of roasted root vegetables, or pumpkin, is an autumn and winter staple. It's easy and takes no time at all, it's a balanced meal, and most importantly tastes great. Since pumpkin is right at the tail end of its season now, I'm sticking to carrots for now. Carrots are a little speedier in any case. If I'm being really lazy I'll just toss everything together with a little balsamic vinegar on top, but the tahini sauce really pulls everything together here and adds some satisfying creaminess. I'm not sure when I first started to really love lentils but these days it's a full-blown affair. I never understand when people, especially vegetarians, tell me they don't like lentils. They're the ideal food! Especially if you live in the north, as they're grown in northern Europe and North America so you can usually find them from a local-ish source. Even in Canada!

I make this bowl for a quick lunch on the weekends, as a main during the week, and it's almost as good cold, so Graham packs it and brings it to work with him too. If you're looking for a super-quick weeknight dinner, you've found it! You need less than half an hour from start to finish, including and cutting time (minimal) and making the sauce. Plus, the ingredients are easy to find and affordable - if you don't want to spend money on tahini or you don't like/can't get it, you can substitute some kind of nut butter or another seed butter in its place. Tahini is easy to find now anyway, probably thanks largely to the popularity of the  Ottolenghi books, hah.

I started a new series yesterday called Sunday favourites, and it'll be a weekly feature now along with the regular weekly recipes. It's links to other recipes and blog posts I loved that week, an article or two, maybe a couple great products, and lots of recipe ideas. I hope you like reading it as much as I liked putting it together!

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Spicy Roasted Carrots with Tahini Lentil Salad
Serves two

150 grams / 3/4 cup dry lentils*
7-8 medium carrots, halved lengthwise (~300 grams)
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sumac*
60 grams / 2 cups rucola or other mild greens 

Rinse the lentils and place into a medium pot. Cover generously with water, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Strain any remaining water and stir in a sprinkle of salt. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the carrots.

Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F. Place the carrots onto a baking sheet with the oil and spices, then use your hands to mix until the carrots are coated. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until they are softened and browned.

To serve, separate the rucola between two dishes and add half the lentils and carrots. Top with the tahini sauce and serve immediately. If you want to pack this for lunch, let the individual elements cool before packing them together in a sealed container.

Tahini Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar*
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced

Place all of the ingredients into a small dish or jar and mix until fully combined. Keep and leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

• Since carrots are naturally higher in sugar, they can burn easily. To prevent yours from charring, place them cut side up on the pan so that the skin side is facing down - you can see that I didn't do this for some of mine and they got a little dark in places.
• Try baby spinach, kale, or swiss chard in place of the rucola (all babies). Don't go for lettuce as it'll be wilt unpleasantly when it comes into contact with the warm carrots and lentils.
• I know this recipe says it serves two but I've downed the whole thing by myself before, so double it if you're extra hungry!

1. Try to soak the lentils ahead of time if you can - just cover them in cold water with a splash of apple cider vinegar and let them sit overnight. This makes them easier to digest and they'll cook faster.
2. This will be around 300 grams / 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils if you already have them on hand.
3. If you don't have sumac, cumin is a good substitution. 
4. Don't add salt to the cooking water for the lentils. It slows down cooking time significantly.
5. If you hate vinegar, you can switch out the balsamic for lemon juice. But even Graham, who says he can't stand vinegar, happily eats this sauce.

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