Spicy Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese

Spicy Butternut Squash Salad

Eating healthy can be really hard in winter.  It’s been so cold and there’s nothing like good-old comfort food to keep you warm.  Sometimes eating a regular old salad for dinner just won’t do, and you find yourself pining for something more satisfying that will make you forget about the snow that won’t stop falling.  But is it possible to stay on track and still feel completely satisfied with weeknight comfort food? With this recipe, I say absolutely. 

Spicy Butternut Squash Salad Prep

Roasted Spicy Butternut Squash

This salad has it all.  The lovely heat from spices like cumin and paprika, the tanginess of the goat cheese, the crunch from toasted walnuts, and the sweetness of the butternut squash.  It’s one of the most satisfying salads I’ve ever had. Whipping up  this recipe will make it so much easier to pass on the take-out you’ve been hankering for.

Sliced mint

This is one of my favorite go-to weeknight dinners for those evenings when I want to eat healthy, but still want to feel totally satisfied.  It’s quick, easy, and unbelievably nutritious.  While this would work as a side salad, it’s one of those winning dishes that is truly a main course, yet it’s still vegetarian!  Stay on track with those New Year’s resolutions; this recipe will make it that much easier.  

Salad Bowl

Spicy Butternut Squash Salad

Note: This salad is incredibly versatile.  If spinach isn’t in season, you can swap it out for any green that looks good in the market, like arugula, kale, or baby greens.  It can even be delicious without the greens if nothing is looking fresh in the store.  Feel free to substitute your favorite squash, like acorn or pumpkin here as well.  Try adding some bulgar or quinoa or your favorite healthy grain.  The possibilities are endless.

Spicy Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese

Adapted from Bon Appetite 

Serves 4 as main, 6 as side

Ingredients

  • 6 cups butternut squash from about a 2 lb squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup lentils (either French green or black lentils)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups baby spinach (see note)
  • 1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts halves.
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Recipe

Place lentils in a small bowl and cover with water.  Soak for about 10 minutes and then drain.  Cook the lentils in salted boiling water until tender and firm (about 30 minutes).  Drain and rinse with cold water.  (Cooking instructions may vary depending on the variety so refer to package instructions if necessary.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned.  Be sure not to burn.  Allow to cool and roughly chop. Set aside.

Place squash in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cumin, paprika, a dash of red pepper flakes and salt. If you don’t like a lot of heat, cut back a bit on spices or leave them out entirely.  Arrange squash on a baking sheet in a single layer, and roast for 20 minutes.  Turn squash over and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes under squash is tender.  Allow to cool.

Combine squash and oil from the baking sheet with lentils, spinach, half of the goat cheese, mint leaves, and walnuts.  Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar, and toss with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining goat cheese and serve.

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2 thoughts on “Spicy Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese

  1. Any suggestions for salad dressings or is no dressing needed on this salad? I recently had a violet vinaigrette that I would love to try on this salad.

    • Oh the violet vinaigrette sounds delicious! This salad has a very simple dressing, it is just the olive oil remaining from roasting the butternut squash, which gets somewhat sweet while roasting, an additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. I enjoy the vinegar on here because it complements the tanginess of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the butternut squash.

      If you prefer to use your own dressing, simply leave out the additional olive oil and red wine vinegar and substitute dressing of choice!

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