roasted roots with pancetta and lentils

another week, another packed lunch. this is a great combination – really flavoursome and filling which meant i was less tempted to snack as the afternoons (dragged) on (it’s been a tough week!).

it was pulled together to use up some roasted beetroot that i had in the fridge (i peel mine before roasting and then sprinkled the chunks of beetroot with chopped rosemary, some fresh oregano plus salt and pepper before drizzling with olive oil). there wasn’t enough to make a big enough batch for the week so we roasted some parsnips to bulk things out, but any roasted vegetable would be good in this – aubergines, peppers, squash etc. i want to play around with the ingredients as i think it’ll be easy to create quite different results depending what vegetables are used but using this recipe as a template.

the pancetta adds a bit of saltiness and the fresh herbs and lemon juice play their usual role of lifting the flavours and freshening everything up. 

roasted roots with pancetta and lentils (serve 4)

500g root vegetables, chopped into bite size pieces (or whatever combination you fancy)

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary leaves

olive oil

250g puy lentils

1 tbsp dijon mustard

juice of a lemon

1 onion, finely chopped

150g pancetta pieces (replace with sundried or sunblush tomatoes for a veggie version)

25g sunflower seeds (pumpkin seeds would also be nice)

a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

a handful of chopped mint

preheat the oven to 200c. toss your root vegetables in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper and rosemary. if you are using more than one vegetable you need to think about variations in cooking times – aubergines, peppers, courgettes will all cook at a similar pace; squash and parsnips will be similar too as long as you cut it into smaller chunks than the others; harder roots like celeriac will take longer so perhaps keep them separate; beetroot takes forever and is probably worth starting off 20-30 minutes before the rest. roast your veggies until they are cooked, turning occasionally – most will take c30 minutes.

cook the lentils in a pan of boiling water for 15–20 minutes until tender. drain.

meanwhile, mix the dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a large glug of olive oil to make a thick mustardy dressing – you need to mix this in with the cooked lentils after they have been drained but while they are still warm to maximise the flavours.

heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the onion. cook for five minutes until it starts to soften then add the pancetta. cook until they are golden and add this to the mustard-dressed lentils. add the cooked roots, sunflower seeds, parsley and mint. check the seasoning and add more if needed – you might want more lemon juice/olive oil if it’s a bit dry.

eat warm or at room temperature.