One of the brilliant things about this dish is that the beetroot is soft and sweet. I usually either roast or juice beetroots but when I roasted some the other day, they came out of the oven really dry and uninspiring. So this dish started because I wanted to poach the beetroots and get a lovely tender result. Fennel seemed a natural partner because, although it takes on the colour of the beetroot, it keeps its beautiful aniseed taste – so when you add the wonderfully rich soya cheese, this dish becomes a great collection of flavours, rather than just a mixture. The flavours soak into the quinoa, making this supergrain delicious and the puy lentils give it some bite.
* gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
- 150g/5½oz/heaped 1 cup quinoa
- 200g/7oz/1 cup puy lentils
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 3 beetroots, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup gluten- and dairy-free stock
- 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
- 100g/3½oz soya cheese, crumbled
- sea salt and black pepper (optional)
- Rinse the lentils thoroughly and put them in a large bowl. Cover with water and leave to soak overnight or for at least 12 hours, then drain, rinse well and drain again.
- Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 40 minutes until soft. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the fennel, cover the pan with a lid and cook, shaking occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the fennel is starting to brown. Add in the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, then add the beetroot slices, making sure that everything sits on the base of the pan. Pour in the stock, add the thyme, and season lightly if you want. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the beetroot is tender.
- Meanwhile, put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well. Transfer to a saucepan and pour over 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. If there is any water left, drain the quinoa thoroughly. Transfer to the serving bowl and mix together with the puy lentils.
- Heap the cooked fennel and beetroot on top of the quinoa and puy lentil mixture, taking care not to break up the fennel when taking it out of the pan. Scatter the cheese on top and serve either hot or cold.
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