Fill My Belly: Venison Sausages with Roasted Beetroot and Puy Lentils

After a crazy couple of months full of friends, family, holidays (managed to fit two in!) and a long-awaited marathon walk I’m finally finding the time and space to get things back on track with my food and exercise.  Which is not to say that I have been lax over the past couple of months – I’ve started regular yoga classes, taken on a Tabata class and kept up the cycling, walking and running, whilst eating the best I can around a busy schedule…but I’ve also skipped a few workouts and eaten a bit too much holiday food and I am starting to feel sluggish for it.

So from tomorrow I’m back on plan. And when I say tomorrow I don’t mean the mythical “tomorrow” of all dieters and New Year’s resolutions which never actually comes and dangles like the promised fruit, just out of reach and unattainable. I mean literally tomorrow, Sunday 15th June. And it’s only tomorrow instead of today because the supermarket only delivered the food this afternoon, and I haven’t finished baking the granola yet.

Nevertheless, there is no reason not to make a good go of today as well (please ignore the Indian ready meal I had for dinner!), so for lunch I whipped up a favourite and super-nutritious meal of mine using some bits I had left over/in the freezer that needed using up: venison sausages, roasted beetroot and Puy lentils.

Now, I know I’ve raved about beetroot    before    and these root vegetables really are little power-houses of nutrition; in addition to all the vitamins and minerals they also provide a huge boost of nitrates which lowers high blood pressure and can help athletes by dilating the blood vessels so more blood can get to the muscles (1).

Lentils are another food we should all eat more of – they are low in fat, high in fibre and protein, and a good source of iron and manganese, not to mention providing over a third of your daily folate requirements per serving. They are also surprisingly filling, so you can have a smaller portion and still feel satisfied. I know some people find they get a little…gassy…after eating lentils, but unless you have a genuine GI issue this is likely to be because you don’t normally consume as much fibre and then the fibre in the lentils is a bit of a shock; this won’t occur if you increase fibre gradually or already have plenty of fibre in your diet – aim for at least 18g of fibre each day (2) – a portion of lentils can provide nearly a third of that.

I used venison sausages I was fortunate to pick up at a local farmers’ market but it’s quite understandable that not everyone will have access to these, in which case I recommend finding a good quality pork sausage with the highest percentage of pork in them you can find – I look for 96-98% pork.  Not only will these be leaner than sausages containing only 42% pork (such as    Richmond Thick Pork Sausages   ), they will also be much meatier and tastier, and you really want as much flavour as possible so the sausages hold their own amongst the other punchy flavours in this recipe.

Ingredients ready for dressing the lentils
Ingredients ready for dressing the lentils

To Serve 2 you will need

4 good quality venison or pork sausages

2 or 3 whole raw beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil

80g Puy or green lentils (to make 160g cooked)
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic
2 shallots or 1 small onion, cut in half with skin removed
coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Roast the beetroot chunks in a hot oven (200 degrees C) for 40-50 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. They should be tender and just starting to caramelise on the edges.

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Roasted beetroot

Meanwhile cook the sausages either on the grill or (if like me you don’t have a separate oven and grill) in the oven, according to the pack instructions.

Whilst the sausages and beetroot cook, prepare the lentils by washing them. Place them in a pan and cover the lentils with cold water, then place the two bay leaves, peeled garlic clove and shallot/onion in the pan with the lentils. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 20-25 minutes, topping up with water if needed.

Lentils with bay, garlic and shallot
Lentils with bay, garlic and shallot

Drain the lentils if needed, removing the bay leaves, shallot/onion and garlic clove, and add the black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then stir.  Add the chopped parsley and stir again.  Serve the sausages and beetroot on a bed of lentils.

Venison sausage, roasted beetroot and Puy lentils
Venison sausage, roasted beetroot and Puy lentils

This recipe also works well with baby spinach and goats cheese or feta used in place of the sausages for a vegetarian option – choose a strong, salty cheese to complement the earthiness of the beetroot and lentils.