the moveable feasts

Spicy Squash Salad with Arugula, Lentils, and Goat Cheese

with 12 comments

spicy squash, lentil, goat cheese and arugula salad

Back towards the end of August I wrote down a large list of treats and dishes that I wanted to make during this year’s Fall season. I scanned through my issues of Cook’s Illustrated and Bon Appetit while checking online at Martha Stewart’s website. I scrawled down a pretty sizable list and was, as you can imagine, pretty excited for the coming season. I dreamed of walking to the farmer’s market in my scarf and tweed coat, scanning the ripe squashes, apples and pears at the Farmers Market, the clear sky above with a crisp bite to the air.

Of course, I became highly impatient when each day I’d have to put up with the warm, sticky, sunny weather outside (oh, how spoiled I am!). I wanted that cold, crisp air, now! Where is the seasonal harvested fall produce I want so much? And then it came, it seemed, out of no where–the perfect, honey crisp apples and chilly mornings. Suddenly, instead of knocking out treat items on my list I realized I was spending more time getting through my week of homework and classes by eating meals of apple slices and peanut butter, simple roasted squash with salt and pepper, or plain buttered slices of toast with some leftover soup.

I made this delicious salad of french green lentils, roasted and spiced butternut squash and creamy goat cheese (twice already) that you see here, but where were the rest of my dreamy items I had written down on my “Fall Season 2011″ list? Still written down there, waiting to be awakened by some magic (or, so we hope) in the kitchen, that’s where. And that’s where they’ll most likely stay.

cubed; looks like cantalope
roasted and spiced

But you know what? I think I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’ve only gotten about three out of twenty-five things crossed off that list (and that the rest aren’t going to be checked off anytime soon). Who needs an apple upside-down cake, apple pie, apple torte and an apple tarte tartin, anyway? Lord knows I certainly don’t need all the calories, nor the taste of some combination of apple and butter every night (well actually, that latter part I could deal with).

Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a big batch of a lentil and squash salad anyway, packed away for a lunch or for a light dinner. It may not be as impressive as some of the other things I want to cross off my list, but it’s the type of thing I’d eat every day if I could (and oh, I have this past week) and there is definitely something to be said about that. And, probably more importantly, it’s delicious. It’s got all the elements: earthiness from the lentils, the spice and smoothness of butternut squash, and creaminess from the goat cheese. And this is one of the best salads for substitutions: replace the butternut squash with pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or acorn squash; substitute feta for goat cheese; try a different green other than arugula; add in some parsley or some other type of herb—you get the idea.

spicy squash, lentil and goat cheese salad

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Epicurious, via Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6 as a side, 3 as a main

Although I enjoyed this salad as stated below, I also like it without the arugula—just squash, lentils, goat cheese, and a slash of red wine vinegar. This is reflected in the picture above.

3/4 cup black or green lentils
2 pounds butternut squash or sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut roughly into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup soft crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and cener a rack in the middle of the oven. Toss cubed squash with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Turn squash over, as best you can. Continue to roast until all the cubes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. Allow to cool.

While the sqash is roasting, place lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes. While the lentils are soaking, get a medium saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Drain the lentils from their soaking liquid, add to the boiling water, and cook the lentils until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain the lentils, then rinse them under cold water. (Both the squash and lentils should be about room tempurature before assembling the salad in order to prevent wilted arugula and melted goat cheese.)

To assemble, combine lentils, squash, arugula, half of the crumbled goat cheese, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among plates and sprinkle additional goat cheese or red wine vinegar on the salads to taste.

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Written by Amy

October 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm

12 Responses

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  1. I always have a massive long list of things I want to make and bake…and only ever get around to making about half of them! But this looks absolutely perfect for autumn, and much healthier than all those pies and tarts :-) Love the combination of nutty lentils and creamy goat’s cheese.

    thelittleloaf

    October 2, 2011 at 10:45 pm

  2. I’m exactly the same and have hundreds of things I think about making but never get round to! The combination in this salad though is perfect – no wonder it made the shortlist ;)

    Kathryn

    October 3, 2011 at 12:34 am

  3. This looks delicious. I’m going to have to give this a try. Love lentils and can’t get enough butternut squash this time of year. I wouldn’t have thought to add goat cheese to the top, but it sounds great. I know what you mean about getting through things. I have a HUGE list of things I want to make too, but ultimately I’m lucky if I get through a handful of them. I also had a pumpkin tart disaster of sorts that will never make it to the blog ;) but I think I redeemed myself with what will be my next posting. Who needs an apple upside cake anyways when you have a dish that looks this good!

    greenthyme

    October 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    • Thanks! Yeah it’s kind of funny, I’m too nervous/embarrassed to ever post recipe mess-ups (also because who wants to recommend a bad recipe?) but the disasters are always so intriguing! The pumpkin tart sounds interesting… oh well! Looking forward to your next post. :)

      Amy

      October 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm

  4. I may have to put this on my fall to-make list, too – maybe trying farro instead of lentils since I have some to use up. In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with delicious fall salads like these!

    Sara

    October 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

  5. I sympathise. School always seems to be getting in the way of cooking. Maybe I don’t have my priorities straight. Anyway, thanks for sharing the lentil salad. I’m always looking for more ways to eat lentils, and red wine vinegar and lentils are definitely a winning combination. (If you do find the time, you should really make yourself an apple tarte tatin, even just a little one. It’s way better at home than as it is served in restaurants, even decent ones. Puff pastry is one of those things that should be eaten right away, not reheated for the table.)

    Katie

    October 4, 2011 at 8:50 am

    • Oh I really want to! I’ve never attempted to make it before–I honestly don’t even think I’ve ever had it homemade, sadly enough. Do you have a recipe that you’d recommend? I’ve been comparing a lot of recipes, and a lot of them seem to use store-bought puff pastry which I’m not so sure about. I feel like if I’m finally going to taste a tarte tartin from home I might as well make it from scratch.

      Amy

      October 4, 2011 at 11:34 am

  6. I’ve never tried butternut squash, but I spotted it at the market and wasn’t sure how to make it. This is lovely – I love goat cheese. I just bought some fresh goat cheese made at the farm next door to make a tomato and goat cheese tart. I’ll make this too.

    • I have extra goat cheese leftover and was thinking about ways to use it up–a tart sounds delicious. And I hope you enjoy the recipe! The squash tastes really good with the spices of cumin and paprika in the recipe, and roasting it is a sure way to make it delicious. Let me know how it goes! :)

      Amy

      October 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm

  7. It’s funny that you mention your list of recipes. I have one typed out on one of the “stickies” on my mac and it takes up the entire height of the computer screen. I think I have about 30 pumpkin/butternut squash/sweet potato recipes on there. Some of them may have to rollover to the spring semester. This looks great though! I have a whole log of goat cheese in my fridge just waiting to be used…and the farmer’s market is Saturday morning…hmmm….

    Katie

    October 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm

  8. This looks amazing!! Thank you for sharing this. I have included this the Kosher Cooking Carnival I hosted this month.

    This American Bite

    October 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm

  9. WOW, looks amazing :)

    master chef

    September 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm


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