Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta

This spicy, hearty salad is perfect as warming meal on a cold autumn day, so it is perfect for the weather in the Netherlands at the moment. It is winter, but with all the rain, moderate temperatures and storm it seems autumn. It is a delicious, vegetarian main, but also delicious with a bit of fish, chicken or meat on the side (I served it with a little bit of fried salmon). You can eat it warm or cold, and it is sturdy enough to take the leftovers with you for lunch the next day.

Lentil Squash Salad

Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta (serves 3 persons as a main)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup black lentils
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (from about a 2-pound squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera picante
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste
salt and pepper
Optional: roasted seeds from your butternut squash

Preheat oven to 200C. Toss squash cubes with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or oven dish and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for another, until tender and browned.
Meanwhile, cook lentils in boiling water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes (taste them earlier, because the cooking time of lentils varies greatly).
Combine lentils, squash, any oil you can scrape from the baking sheet, half of the feta, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and extra vinegar, if desired. Divide among plates and sprinkle with the remaining feta.

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, make sure you use a feta (or similar white cheese) that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain animal derived rennet).

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