Nutty, tangy, earthy, creamy – beet & avocado bowl
I tend to shy away from brown rice and lentil salads at cafes, as they’re usually about as flavoursome as cardboard and require far more chewing than I’d like. However, they are so incredibly easy to turn into a healthy one-pot meal that I felt determined to find a tastier way to consume them (with less chewing). This has been my favourite so far. The rice & lentils bit was easy – just give them an overnight soak together and they cook beautifully. Add sweet & earthy beets to the rice & lentils and hey! They go all silky soft and turn everything that vibrant shocking pinky purple (not very well expressed in the photo – but I was starving, so didn’t want to “style” it). To counteract the earthy-on-earthy flavours, a super quick lime & cumin guac and (optionally) feta is added. Finally, for some rich nutty crunch, I sprinkled over some toasted slivered almonds & walnuts (but use whatever lightly toasted nuts you want).
If you too buy your beets with the greens attached, you can also finely chop them and add them to the brown rice near the end of its cooking time for extra healthy brownie points. I don’t think they add a whole lot flavour wise in this as there’s so much else going on, but maybe that’s just something we can all keep quiet.
Beyond beets and beet greens, this would also be delicious with carrots and kale or chard with no extra effort. If guac and avocados aren’t your thing and you want to keep this low-fat, you can drizzle over some lemon juice or pomegranate molasses instead to give those earthy flavours some tart zingy competition on your tastebuds. Then you can still use cumin if you like and spring onions, or raw finely chopped red shallots, or those crispy fried shallots you can get at Asian supermarkets (they make everything better).
Beet & avocado brown rice & lentil bowl
serves two as a main meal
- about 3/4 c brown rice – use whatever rice you prefer, just not glutinous
- about 1/3 c brown or green lentils (dry raw), or whatever lentils stay together after cooking
- 2 raw beetroot (or carrots), diced
- optional: finely chopped leaves of the two beetroot (or kale, chard or spinach*)
- optional: around 200g feta, crumbled
- small handfuls of toasted nuts of your choice (chop roughly if using large nuts)
*if using spinach, add raw to the final cooked rice
Soak rice & lentils overnight in the saucepan you’ll use for cooking. Strain out the water and add 1.5x the amount of water as there is rice & lentils. Add beetroot. Cover, place on high heat until you can see steam making a major run for it out the side of the pan (about 5 minutes). Turn heat down to lowest setting possible and let cook for 20 minutes. Uncover, add leafy greens if using. This is a good time to check if there’s enough/too much water. If you’ve used too much water, cook until some of the water evaporates, stirring to help the steam escape for the next ten minutes or so. If too dry and the bottom smells slightly burnt but is salvagable, add 1/2c water, cover and cook an extra five minutes on super low heat. Then turn the heat off and let sit ten minutes.
Pour hot rice into serving bowls, top with feta and stir through slightly. Taste and season with salt to taste if needed. Then top with guac and nuts.
Quick lime & cumin guacamole
- juice and some of the zest of one lime or half a large lemon
- pinch toasted ground cumin
- 3 small very ripe avocadoes
- finely chopped raw spring onion or red shallots or red onion to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Mash with fork or blitz with an immersion blender. Store excess in an airtight container.
PS. I’m falling utterly in love with Kylie Kwong’s It Tastes Better. Perfect long weekend reading, and the recipes are right up my alley – not too fussy, not too many ingredients for a weeknight attempt, with a fresh, interesting use of Asian flavours and methods. I really need to get on the whole spring onion & ginger bandwagon. Any other foodie reading recommendations?