Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil, And Goat Cheese Salad
I know what you're thinking... it's December now, so why is Megan still posting pumpkin recipes? November was a pretty busy month, and I didn't get all the posts up that I wanted to. But this salad was so delicious with such complex flavor that I couldn't not tell you about it. Maybe you can put it on the list for next year.
Or maybe you can still find a sugar pumpkin or a sugar pumpkin squash, which I discovered is a great substitute when you can't find a sugar pumpkin. Maybe acorn squash, which is still in season, could work instead.
Along with the pumpkin, this salad is rampant with lentils. The new Whole Foods in Dedham, Mass., has a great self-serve section for all kinds of nuts, grains, and such. I was able to easily find green lentils there and get the amount I wanted. I've never taken much advantage of this section before, but it's really useful. You even get to print your own label and stick it on the bag.
As I do with most salads, I prepared this one to bring for my lunch at work. I separated it into containers, layering the pumpkin and lentil mixture on top of the mixed greens, and adding dollops of goat cheese. I brought a little bit of red wine vinegar and oil in a separate container, and I also roasted the pumpkin/squash seeds, kept them on the side, and tossed those on top just before eating the salad for a little crunch and extra saltiness.
Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad (adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2009)
6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (from about one 2-pound whole pumpkin) (I used a 2-pound sugar pumpkin squash but did not get 6 cups worth of pumpkin from it -- you can just adjust the spices accordingly for the amount of pumpkin you end up with.)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup French green lentils
4 cups mixed greens
1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or as much as you like)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Place pumpkin in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt.
Arrange pumpkin in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn pumpkin over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.
Place lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes; drain. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, and then drain.
Combine lentils, pumpkin, and oil from baking sheet.
Plate some mixed greens (or spread them in a container if preparing lunch). You can do a big plate or bowl if serving this for company or just set it up on individual plates. Top the mixed greens with the pumpkin and lentil mixture, dollops of goat cheese, vinegar, and oil. (Keep the vinegar and oil on the side if you don't plan to eat it right away. Then drizzle them on top just before eating.) Season with salt and pepper.
I was a little worried that the smoked paprika would be too strong, but when mixed with everything else, it imparts a more subtle flavor than you'd expect. (This was the first time I've cooked with it.) The components of this salad work really well together and can easily be adapted. As it is, the original recipe calls for arugula, but I opted for mixed greens instead because I had eaten an arugula-based salad the week before. I also brought late harvest Riesling vinegar to refresh the salad with one day instead of the red wine vinegar. The sweetness of it combined really well with the smoky earthiness of the rest of the components.
I definitely recommend giving this salad a try if you're a fan of pumpkin, lentils, and goat cheese. It's quite tasty, and it's got fiber and other good stuff too.
Do you bring lunch to work or do you buy your lunch instead? If you bring lunch, what sorts of things do you bring? Do you prepare meals ahead like I do? Or do you bring a sandwich or leftovers (like I do when I'm short on time)? I'm always looking for new ideas!