When picking out a recipe for dinner, it must meet the following criteria: 1) simple ingredients, 2) the fewer the dishes needed the better, 3) at least somewhat healthy, and 4) it looks like something I will want to make again. With a full time job and two small kids to look after, extra time is a luxury. This butternut squash and lentil salad with goat cheese hit the mark, plus some! The fact that the salad is vegetarian and packed with protein is an added bonus for sure. Did you know that lentils have 18 grams of protein in one cup? Not only are they inexpensive and low calorie, but they have more protein than beef per gram. Crazy!
The only downside to this salad, and any other recipe including butternut squash, is the hassle of cutting the squash into many small-ish pieces. I thought about buying the pre-cut squash at Publix, but when I saw the price, I said “boy bye” and decided I could use the arm workout. Otherwise, the other steps are a breeze and you will have plenty of leftovers for the week.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
3 medium butternut squash (5-6 cups)
¾ cup lentils
6 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 Tbs cumin, ground
1 tsp red pepper, ground
arugula (probably 1 ½ to 2 cups per person for a main dish)
2 Tbs goat cheese per salad
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash into 1 inch to 1 ½ inch cubes. I should have taken pictures during this process, but I find the best way to cut a butternut squash is as follows: 1) peel the outside of the squash, 2) cut off the bottom of the squash so that you can stand it upright, 3) cut the squash into halves, long ways, 4) using a spoon, remove the seeds from the inside, and 5) cut the two large pieces into strips, and then into cubes.
Toss the squash in the olive oil, salt, cumin and ground red pepper. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet (I covered mine in tin foil) for 40 minutes, stirring half way through.
While the squash is roasting, soak the lentils in cold water for about 10 minutes. During this time, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once the 10 minutes has passed, drain the lentils, removing any debris, and add to the pot for 30 minutes. You will know the lentils are done once they start to soften up. However, don’t let them get too soft or you will wind up with mush. No thank you.
Drain the lentils and place in a medium sized bowl. By now, the squash should be done as well. Add the squash and any left over olive oil to the bowl of lentils. (I actually added about a tablespoon more of olive oil at this point because I love the stuff.) Stir gently.
This is the easy part – place 1 – 2 cups of arugula in each bowl and top with the butternut squash and lentil mixture. Add 2 Tablespoons of goat cheese on top, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and enjoy a hearty and healthy meal! The peppery goodness of the arugula zaps your taste buds and the goat cheese adds a tartness and richness that makes my mouth water as I am sitting at my computer.
Note: You can easily omit the arugula and serve this as a side dish or on its own. It would also be great with chicken or salmon.
Chandler and Cathryn