Fall Lentil Salad with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese
Let’s talk about the time I threw a bunch of things into a bowl and called it a fall lentil salad. And then decided I liked it so much that I needed to make it happen again so that I could take some pretty pics and share it here with you.
This whole escapade didn’t start off as complete and utter randomness. I had planned to make a sort of warm lentil salad for dinner one night with some roasted butternut squash and arugula. You know basic, simple, not all messed around with.
But then. Then I saw the leftover cornbread sitting on my counter. Which just clearly needed to be made into croutons. Because I pretty much never stop thinking about them after this BLT cornbread panzanella. Right.
And then, while I was waiting for the butternut squash to roast, the croutons to cool down, and the lentils to cook, I made the mistake of perusing around in my fridge (to be fair – I did go in there to get the mustard for the dressing for this salad).
Which led to me discovering the half-eaten log of herbed goat cheese. And a little bit of raw pecans leftover from snacking. Obviously they both needed to go in as well.
So all these delicious components got placed in a big ol’ bowl and then slapped down in front of the husband and declared as fall. He just looked at me like I had three heads because who on earth calls dinner “fall.” Oh wait, I do. You would think he would be used to my antics by now. But anyway, that look changed quickly once he tried it.
You have warm lentils with butternut squash and wilted spinach or arugula, tossed in a light slightly mustardy vinaigrette. You have some crunch from the pecans, a little cheesy bite from the goat cheese and truly awesome cornbread croutons to top it all off.
I promise, it all just works.
Go with me on this one. Because randomness has never tasted so good.
- 3 cups cubed (¾ inch pieces) cornbread (use your favorite!)
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash (¾ inch chunks)*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup green lentils, picked through and rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups arugula or baby spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- 2 ounces herbed (or regular) goat cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Lay the cornbread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until toasted. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400ºF.
- Add the red onion and butternut squash to a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the cumin, cinnamon and salt. Toss to combine and spread in an even layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until tender and starting to brown.
- Meanwhile, add the lentils and the water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, partially cover with a lid and let simmer gently for about 20 to 25 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain off any excess water and add to a large bowl.
- When the butternut squash is done, add to the bowl with the lentils. Add in the arugula (or spinach) and toss to combine (letting the steam/heat wilt the arugula/spinach).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, vinegar, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil until smooth. Pour into the bowl with the lentils and toss to combine.
- Spoon some of the lentil mixture onto a serving dish. Top with a sprinkle of pecans, some crumbled goat cheese and finally a handful of the croutons.
Cookie Monster Cooking