One of the reasons “Zoë’s Kitchen” was born was because I was tired of a turned up nose every time dinner time came around. It’s been a wonderful project to have both of my girls more involved in the preparation of dinner and they do appreciate the food more.
However, I still hit a wall when I try to serve them some kind of salad. They don’t do lentils in any form, barley is a no-no unless it’s in a soup and beets are way too brightly coloured to be sensible food (don’t talk to me about brightly coloured crayons, I don’t have an answer to that).
Still, I refuse to stop making salads. I know how important it is for the girls to see what we eat and enjoy and their tastes will develop as they grow older. In the meantime, I have to include something on the table that they will like with the ultimate goal being able to sit and enjoy dinner with the whole family without having to get up. Haven’t achieved it 100% yet but ever hopeful!
Tonight’s dinner was Barley and Lentil Salad with Beets. It’s a one-pot sustaining dish that is yummy but the girls, I know, wouldn’t touch it. So I defrosted some soup I had in the freezer and served it alongside a basket of bread. Following the principles that Ellyn Satter outlines in her books, it’s important to have something on the table that everybody will eat. Even if it is bread – be patient and the bread will become boring and the interest for the salad will pique. I’ve seen this happen in my older daughter – who will now venture into a green salad – but that’s not to say I wasn’t doubtful along the way. It’s hard to imagine, but rest assured – it will!
Meanwhile, the Lentil and Barley Salad was delicious. It wasn’t based on a strict recipe – as salad so isn’t but it’s something like this:
1 cup pot barley, cooked*
1 cup lentils, cooked*
1 cup cubed beets, cooked*
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup sliced red onion
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/2 fennel, chopped (optional)
3 miniature sweet peppers, alternative colours, chopped
2 cups shredded arugula
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
6oz chopped goat cheese
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp mustard
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/8 cup flax oil (can substitute with extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Set your ingredients out so everything is ready to mix together.
Always keep an eye on toasting nuts. Pine nuts can go from pale to burnt in seconds
In a stainless steel skillet over a medium heat, brown pine nuts, then set aside to cool.
I love my Magic Bullet for making dressings.
Make salad dressing using a blender or chopping all ingredients finely and shaking vigorously in a mason jar. Set aside.
Chop vegetables (carrot, celery, fennel if using, onion and peppers). Set aside in a small bowl. Prepare torn arugula and cilantro and set aside.
Mix cooled barley and lentils together in a large bowl. Pour in enough dressing to coat and flavour ingredients. Add in cubed beets and mix until pink hue spreads evenly. Add in pine nuts, carrot, celery, onion, peppers and cilantro.
Distribute salad on a serving platter and sprinkle crumbled goat cheese over top.
Colourful, nutritious and delicious salad.
Note: Flavour intensifies over time so make sure you save some for tomorrow’s lunch. These types of salads are even better the next day.
* Cook barley in salted water for 45 minutes, then drain. Cook lentils until soft (30-40 minutes) in salted water, drain. Scrub beets and roast with skins in 400ºF oven for approx 1 hour. Let cool slightly before peeling and chopping.