Lentil & Roasted Squash Salad

Every year, to celebrate the new year, we follow the Italian tradition of eating lentils for good luck. This year, instead of our usual lentil soup or braised lentils I decided to create a tasty lentil salad. I opened my pantry cupboards and pulled out a few holiday leftovers such as dried cranberries and walnuts, roasted a winter squash that had been left on my counter for over a week, and added a few fresh ingredients from the refrigerator, ending up with the most delicious salad I’ve had in a very long time. To dress the salad, since it included some earthy flavored items, I used a combination of balsamic vinegar and walnut oil which complimented the other ingredients perfectly. We thoroughly enjoyed our lentil salad on the beach, and I know I will be making this salad often in the future.

I generally prefer using the tiny, tan colored Umbrian lentils, but instead for this salad I chose the small, green French lentils. I would avoid red lentils for salads as they can get mushy. Be careful when cooking the lentils, tasting them often as they cook, as you want them fairly firm for salads.

To cook your lentils, use three cups of liquid for each cup of lentils. Lentils placed in already boiling water will be easier to digest than those that were brought to a boil with the water. Once the water returns to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer and cover. Green lentils usually take 25 minutes to fully cook, so if you remove them from the water after about 20 minutes they should be firm enough for this salad. To keep the ingredients intact, it is best to cool them individually before assembling the salad. Toasting the walnuts really brings out their flavor and is easily accomplished by simply roasting them in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

 

 

  • Squash is low in calories, but are a rich source of dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. Recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction program, squash is also a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
  • Lentils are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat.
  • Walnuts are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids, are also rich in antioxidants, including being a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper. Many other minerals are provided by walnuts in valuable amounts. These minerals include calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium and zinc.

 

Lentil & Roasted Squash Salad

A salad that is power packed full of nutrition and flavor.

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

3 Cups Lentils, Cooked "al dente"
1 Cup Finely Chopped Celery
3/4 Cup Chopped Green Onions
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
3/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
3/4 Cup Toasted, Chopped Walnuts (See Notes Above)
2 1/2 Cups Diced, Roasted Winter Squash
Dressing:
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Walnut Oil (Or Olive Oil)
Salt & Pepper To Taste

Directions:

Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and gently toss.
Mix together the vinegar, oil, salt & pepper in a small bowl, then pour over the lentil ingredients and gently stir.
Serve immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator.