Caramelized Brussels Sprouts & Lentil Salad

Yield 4 as an appetizer; 2 as a main dish
  • 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 10 large shallots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • Almond slivers, for garnish
  • Savory Balsamic Glaze (see below)
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, for finishing
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or marjoram (optional)

Savory Balsamic Glaze recipe

  • 1 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 scant tablespoon honey or packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 clove
  • One 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 2 juniper berries (can be skipped if you do not have any)
  • 1 teaspoon herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or sage

1. Place the lentils in a large pot and cover them with water by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are tender but still retain their shape. The time varies depending on how fresh the lentils are. It could take 20 to 30 minutes, so taste them to check around the 20-minute mark. When they are ready, drain them, briefly run them under cold water, and set aside in a fine-mesh strainer to dry.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celcius).

3. Wash the Brussels sprouts and trim off any damaged leaves. Trim at the root end and make a shallow cross incision on the bottom of each one. Steam them for 10 minutes, or until they start to get tender on the outside.

4. Peel the shallots and cut them in half, cut off the tough root, and cut each half in half again. Toss on a rimmed baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts, olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper and mix well with your hands to coat evenly. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and slightly caramelized.

5. When ready, toss everything together in a large bowl with the lentils. Finish with a handful of toasted almond slivers, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, and thyme if you wish. Adjust the salt if necessary, and add one more drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Directions for Savory Balsamic Glaze:
1. In a small saucepan over low heat, place the vinegar and either the savory flavorings or the sweet flavorings and combine. Bring to a slow simmer and boil down the mixture for about 15 minutes, or until it reduces by almost half, stirring every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon. At first, the reduction might still look very liquidy, but it will thicken as it cools, so it is important to not overcook it.

2. Bring your reduced vinegar to a slow simmer over low heat. Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon potato starch in ¼ cup (50 ml) water (the starch will not actually dissolve). While stirring the vinegar with a wooden spoon, add the water-starch mixture a little at a time. Cook for 2 minutes after you’ve added all the starch and remove the pan from the heat. Stir for 1 minute more and let cool.

Reprinted from Naturally Vegetarian by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Valentina Solfrini.

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