If you’re anything like me, you are constantly on the lookout for easy, cheap meals on the go. Many factors must be carefully assessed when choosing your packed breakfast/dinner/”lunch break” at 1:30 in the morning on a film set (don’t ask). Portability is a major issue: can it be neatly packed away in tupperware? Will it stand up to the black hole of death a.k.a my behemoth of a purse? Will it spoil if I (inevitably) forget about it for a while in the sun? Is access to a microwave imperative? Is it easily eatable while taking notes in class? (a fine science I have perfected, to be sure)
But we all know the most important factor: whether or not you will actually eat said food item after it has gone through bumpy bike rides, book drops, and exposure to the elements. It’s all for nothin’ if you can’t bring yourself to eat your packed meal in the end. The smart chaps over at Gogurt should be listening to this.
Well, I can confidently say that this healthy little zinger of a salad is a winner. I’ve eaten it so much out of my favorite blue tupperware, it felt odd plating it for a afternoon photo shoot. Like borrowing a friend’s shirt that just wasn’t meant for your curves, it was wrong I tell ya.
The ingredients–lentils, quinoa, beets, and carrots–as well as being nutritional powerhouses are all ridonkulously cheap (buy the grains in bulk). It’ll take about an hour to cook, but makes enough for plenty of weekday lunches to stuff your biggest bad boy tupperware. And, honestly, who can say no to roasted beets? They’re deliciously sweet, fiber-licious, and turn your poop pink-arific: I’m sold.
I like this best at room temperature (absolutely parfait for packed lunch), but it packs a punch hot or cold. The fresh garlic in the mustard dressing really kills in a good way, so for those who are simply incapable of following a recipe (I include myself in that list) please just listen to Mr. Paul McCartney. Let it be.
Two-Grain Beet Salad
4-6 medium/small beets, peeled
1 cup lentils
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
For the dressing:
2 T spicy brown mustard (or whatever mustard floats your boat)
juice of half a Meyer lemon
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 gloves garlic, finely minced
dash of onion powder
salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425°. Meanwhile, prep your beets for roasting using this method by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Don’t forget to save the yummy beet greens for a stir fry, you’ll thank me later. Place the tin foil beets in the oven and forget about them for an hour while you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.
Add lentils and bay leaf (if using) to a small saucepan and cover with water to about the length of one finger tip, but don’t get too fussed about it. You’re going to drain the water out later anyway. Bring the lentils to a boil, cover, and simmer for around 20-25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove the bay leaf and drain well if there is any water remaining.
While the lentils are cooking, rinse the quinoa well over a fine strainer and place in a medium pot with the 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. It’s done when the spiral-like germ has separated and the grains are transparent. It should be fairly moist, but not watery.
Now, for the dressing. Add all ingredients except the olive oil to a small bowel (make sure the lemon seeds don’t fall in) and whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking constantly. Taste test and adjust seasonings as you see fit.
Combine the quinoa, lentils, grated carrot (I like larger shreds for this), and dressing into a large bowel and mix well. When the beets are easily pierced with a fork, remove from tin foil, chop into bite-size pieces, and mix into the salad. Allow to chill for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 4-6 servings