Root lentil salad for a crowd

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with all of my family in America. It was a great party, got to see people I hadn’t for a long time and the food was all great. We did it at my aunt’s house in Newport Beach. She used to own a restaurant for 25 years and is an amazing chef. She cooked most of the dishes, and I helped out with the rest as soon as I got to their house the night before, It was a feast!
the menu went like this:
Guacamole and chips, cheese platter for appetizers. Then we had stuffed bell peppers, grilled vegetables with romesco sauce, steamed corn, baked salmon, white beans in a tomato sauce, pasta with homemade pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled peaches with goat cheese, baked potato bar, watermelon  slices, and this root lentil salad. everything was so good and all homemade. And vegan cupcakes for dessert!

What makes this salad very pretty are the different colored roots, I would suggest to go to your local farmers market and pick whatever looks good and vibrant. If you cannot find the purple daikon, look for radishes instead.

•INGREDIENTS•
→ 1 cup beluga lentils (the tiny black ones)
→ 3/4 bay leaves
→ 1 garlic clove
→ 3 beets, mixed colors (red, yellow and pink striped)
→ 1 purple daikon
→ 3 carrots (I used purple ones)
→ 1/4 cup pine nuts
→ 1 bunch of fresh arugula (rocket)
FOR THE DRESSING:

→ 1/2 lemon
→ 1/4 tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, salt
→ pinch of cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper
→ 1 tbls of maple syrup
→ 2 tbls of extra virgin olive oil

For the lentils:
I prefer to make the lentils the day before serving. Start by rinsing the lentils under cold water, then place in a pot with 2 cups of water, the bay leaves and the garlic clove. Bring to a boil, then simmer until water has evaporated. Make sure to not overcook them.
In the meantime prepare the dressing by mixing all the above ingredients. Drain the lentils, let cool for a few minutes and then add the dressing while still warm. You might not need all the dressing, reserve what is left. Refrigerate lentils in closed container.

For the vegetables:
Prepare the vegetables a couple of hours at least before serving, since they are kept raw you want to make them soften a bit(the carrots can be done last-minute). Peel and wash the beets and daikon. Using a mandolin, slice them thinly. Prepare separate containers for the beets and daikon. in each container drizzle some olive oil and salt and mix with hands to make sure the olive oil is spread. (Note: I kept the vegetables seperate because the red beets tend to color everything next to them!). Refrigerate and let marinate all the sliced vegetables.

Putting it together:
Take everything out of the fridge.
Toast the pine nuts, be careful not to burn them. Peel and wash the carrots, using the peeler shave them into carrot stripes. In a big bowl add the lentils, carrots, the beets and daikon, the rocket torn a part a little and the pine nuts. Finally add a splash of olive oil and taste to see if any additional salt is needed.

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