Every so often I come across a recipe in a cookbook that confounds me. While the photos in the cookbook make the dish look appealing, I can’t imagine how I could ever duplicate it. If I’m feeling up for a challenge, I’ll go for it and see how things turn out. Sometimes I lose and sometimes I win. Today’s recipe and photo gave me that confounding feeling, but I prepared it anyway and I think I won. I mean, I didn’t knock it out of the park or anything, but the result looked and tasted good. I was actually quite surprised by my success.
What confused me most was the ingredients. I’ve made lentils in the past and almost every time, they’ve come out far too soft. I think this was because I overcooked them. Actually, I know it’s because I overcooked them. Lentils aren’t like rice; they don’t need to be cooked for a full hour. Give them 25 minutes on the stove top and you’ll get a perfectly tender lentil that stayed together and maintains its shape. If you infuse that same lentil with interesting spices and some salt, the result is even better. That’s what this recipe calls for; some infusion.
The other primary ingredient is butternut squash. This was pretty easy to pull off. Just peel the squash and cut it up into cubes. Toss those cubes with some olive oil and salt and then roast them in the oven. The cooking of both the lentils and the squash take about the same time, so everything fits well with one another. The result is an interesting salad that tastes very good. I liked this recipe a lot.
1 Cup Lentils
1 Pound Butternut Squash, Peeled, Seeded and Cut into 3/4 Inch Cubes
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Garlic, Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 Cup Parsley, Chopped Coarsely
1/4 Cup Red Onion, Finely Chopped
2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Seeds, Toasted
Ground Black Pepper
I’d like to thank America’s Test Kitchen for this recipe. I pulled it from their resource called The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook and it was as wonderful as ever.
Arrange the racks in the oven so one is in the center position. Then, pre-heat the oven 450 degrees.
Cook the Lentils
Bring three cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Then, add the lentils, along with one teaspoon salt, to the pot and reduce the heat to low, or just so the water is simmering. Once that’s done, add in one tablespoon olive oil, the garlic, coriander, cumin, ginger and cinnamon. Mix well and cover the pot. Cook the lentils for approximately 25 minutes until they are just finished. They should be soft, but with a hint of firmness at the center. When done, remove the pot from the heat. Drain any excess liquid from the pot.
Cook the Squash
Place the squash in a large bowl. Then, add one tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss the squash with all of these ingredients well and then spread them out on a large baking sheet. Place the sheet into the oven for 25 minutes.
To a large bowl, add three tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons vinegar and mustard. Whisk these ingredients and then add in the squash, lentils, parsley and onions. Mix well to combine. Finally, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Plate & Serve
You can plate each serving in it’s own bowl or add everything to a larger serving dish. It’s up to you. Just be sure to add the toasted pumpkin seeds to each bowl or the serving dish. Either way, it’s going to be delicious, so enjoy!
The Final Spiced Lentil Salad
I’ll tell you, the spices really add some flavor to this dish. It’s rather unique in a good way. Give this recipe a try and let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!