On my last day working, well at least working at a job that actually pays, my girls took me out to lunch at one of my favorite Denver haunts. We sat outside soaking up the sun, eating, drinking and of course laughing at my crazy shenanigans a manager. Perfect day.
During this lunch, we had this green salad that I just can’t get out of my head. Obsessed. Straight up obsessed. Being obsessed about a salad, a salad, is just pure crazy. So now I fall into the crazy and obsessed category. Good thing I am now working from home.
Was it the roasted beets paired with Apricot Chutney and Chick Peas? Maybe, but that combination has been the darling of salads at restaurants across the country for the past couple of years. Been there, done that.
So maybe then, it was the crunchy black lentil noodles combined with cilantro and Raita? Unusual for sure.
Or quite possibly, it was the combination of all those ingredients tossed together without so much as a piece of lettuce in the mix. Still not sure if I believe salads can be called a green salad without lettuce. But it made me think. It made me listen with my taste buds. Ok, let’s try this one at home.
I was haunted by this salad for longer then I care to admit to, so I did what I do best, I made some baby food inspired by this dish. I changed up the chutney for some fresh peaches to eliminate the sugar, and to also go with peach week. I switched the Raita for some goat cheese based solely on the fact that I was too lazy to make yet more items for this ‘salad’ and added some swiss chard to give it an additional health kick.
This dish is good. Maybe not as good as the original but it still tells a story of earthly roasted beets mixed with the sweetness of peaches balanced out by just a dab of creamy goat cheese. It is not a dish I would make every week, not because it is not deliousious but it takes some time. You have to use 3 different methods of cooking and dirty more dishes and machines than I care to do for baby food. I am a 1 pot/pan/gadget kinda mama. But for a dinner party (HA, do use new parents still have those?) or a nicer meal for the entire family. Go for it! Crack open that bottle of wine you have been saving for a somewhat nicer occassion, slip on something that doesn’t have spit up or pasted on banana on it and have a nice dinner. You deserve it.
Peach + Beets + Red Chard + Chick Peas + Cilantro + Back Lentils
3 organic red beets
2 organic peaches
4 stems organic red chard
3 stems cilantro
1 tbsp goat cheese, optional
1 cup organic chick peas
1 cup organic black lentils, can be found in the bulk food section of your natural food store. If you can’t find them, you can use any other hardy grain; couscous, quinoa, faro.
Preheat oven to 375°. Scrub beets and trim off any greens and tails. Wrap in tin foil and toss in oven for 45-60 minutes depending on size of beets. The beets will be done when you can easily put a fork into it.
Meanwhile, cut peaches off of pit and into quarters and place into steam pot. Trim red chard and place in with peaches. Steam for 5 minutes. Let slightly cool. Place peaches, red chard, cilantro and goat cheese into food processor or blender and pulse until combined. Pour into bowl. Pour chick peas into a mess colander and wash under cold water picking out any loose skins. Add chick peas to peach mixture. Stir until blended. When the beets are done and cool enough to handle, cut or peel skins off and cut into bite size pieces. Put into mess colander and rinse under cold removing some of the red dye that will stain your baby/babies cloths/carpet under highchair/etc. Stir into peach/chick pea mixture.
I washed the bottom of my steam pot to make my black lentils. Wash lentils under cold water, picking out any broken or discolored lentils. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add lentils and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Cover. Turn down to low and cook for 15-20 or until the lentils are tender but not soggy. Drain any excess water.
For babies 9-12 months, omit goat cheese and puree all ingredients in a blender until you have a smooth consistency.
For babies over 12 months the goat cheese is still optional and you can either top the black lentils with the beet/peach/chick pea mixture or puree the mixture and place ontop of the lentils.
For grown-ups, toss beet/peach/chick pea mixture, black lentils and arugula together in a big bowl and call it a fancy salad. Enjoy with a bold red wine.