Put the lentils in a saucepan with the bay leaf and thyme. Pour over 1-1/3 cups/375 ml water, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. All the liquid should be absorbed by the time they’re done, if not simply drain off any excess.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic for one minute, then deglaze the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar. When the lentils are cooked, toss them with the onion, son with salt and pepper and put them in a serving dish. Scatter over the nuts and pinches of cheese. Serve warm with roasted beetroot.