Spicy butternut squash salad with lentils and goat cheese

What a savory salad for a fall evening meal:)

Our garden gave up about 60 butternut squash this summer (HAVE to thin and cull next summer), so we cherish every new idea for using them in different and tasty ways. This would be one of the best. We only have about 22 of them left now…filling the freezer and giving them away before it’s too late!

Adapted from Bon Appetit, with thanks to Deb from Smitten Kitchen.

The butternut squash seeds are as edible as pumpkin seeds, so if you choose, toast the seeds so that they can add some crunchy goodness to your salad. Simply clean them off, rinse and pat them dry and toast them in the oven on an oiled baking sheet, sprinkled with salt. Note: they like to pop, more than regular pumpkin seeds do. You may want to let them dry out for a day first, this will help prevent excessive popping.

Serves 6 as an appetizer, 3 as a main

3/4 cup black, green or red lentils
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash or sugar pumpkin (1-inch cubes) (from about a 2-pound squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika*
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups baby arugula — optional
1 cup soft crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves — optional
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste
Roasted seeds (about 1/2 cup) from your butternut squash

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash or pumpkin cubes with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Cool.

Meanwhile, soak lentils for 10 minutes in a small bowl, then drain. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water, then drain and cool.

Combine lentils, pumpkin, any oil you can scrape from the baking sheet with arugula, if using, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and extra vinegar, if desired. Divide among plates and pass with remaining goat cheese to sprinkle.

* You can swap half with sweet (not hot) smoked paprika to make sure it’s not too spicy, if you prefer. If you don’t have either on hand, there are ways to approximate this smoky/spiciness with what you have in your pantry, such as mixing some regular paprika with a ground chipotle powder or another smoky spice, and then a pinch of cayenne for extra heat.

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One thought on “Spicy butternut squash salad with lentils and goat cheese

  1. This looks delightful. I wish the rest of my family was as head over heals for butternut squash as I am because I think this would make a superb Thanksgiving side dish.

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