Deb beat me to it. I’ve been wanting to tell you about this amazing salad ever since I made it for the yoga retreat a few weeks ago. But there were Buckeyes to mention and photos of boys in pumpkin patches that I needed to share. There was also a weekend of being whisked off to New York City and amazing food to be eaten and then I opted to write about cupcakes before salad. Silly me.
In case you don’t read Smitten Kitchen (you should) or you just really want to know more about this terrific salad, I’m still going to post about it. When I first looked at the recipe, I figured it must be a home run. I love all the components separately – winter squash, Le Puy lentils, goat cheese, arugula – but I had never had them all together. I figured if I loved them individually, I’d love them collectively. Then, as I was pulling the salad together, doubts started to creep in. Do these things really go together? Is this a salad or a side dish? Is the small amount of olive oil I used to roast the squash really going to make enough of a dressing? Is anyone going to eat this?
Answers: Yes, doesn’t matter, yes, and yes until the bowl is empty. This salad was the first to go. It surprised me. On a day where I made lots of good food, I took a small amount thinking I just needed to taste it so that I could write about it. Then I took another taste. Then I pushed aside another salad to make more room for this one. Aside from the Buckeyes, I got more comments about this salad than any other dish I made that day.
Just before I left for New York, a very cool opportunity presented itself. A lovely woman, fellow yogi and food lover, asked me to prepare some salads for an advisory committee that she heads. She is interested in healthy food and helping to influence what that means in our country. Of course this is near and dear to my heart so I said yes. She had requests. My Israeli couscous salad and the squash salad. She requested two other salads as well. (And 140 Buckeyes but that is another story.) Again the squash got the most comments of the day.
One Year Ago: Roasted Pear Galette with Chevre and Pomegranates
Spiced Squash, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad
Adapted from Bon Appétit
¾ cup French green lentils
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp. kosher salt
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Place lentils in a small bowl. Cover with cold water and let soak 10 minutes. Drain.
Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place squash on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and salt. Roast 20 minutes. Turn squash over. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Cool.
Combine lentils, squash, and oil from baking sheet with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining goat cheese over.
(My make-ahead tips are as follows. I made the squash and the lentils one day ahead and stored them separately. I made sure they came to room temperature before mixing everything together. I also chopped the mint the day before and stored it wrapped in a paper towel and then a ziploc bag.)