Salad of Beluga Lentils with Roasted Butternut Squash

Serves 8-12

For all ingredients please consider using those that have been grown organically.

1 1/2 cups beluga lentils
1 medium butternut squash, roasted
2 medium pomegranates, seeded or about 1 1/2-2 cups seeds
1 cup unsalted pistachio kernels, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh chervil or parsley, chopped
6-10 ounces baby spinach, mâche, mixed baby greens, or massaged lacinato kale
3-4 tablespoons Mustard Vinaigrette

Rinse the lentils and put into a saucepan over medium-high heat with about 4 cups of water or enough to cover the lentils by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes. They should still be firm, but soft in the middle. Drain the lentils in a strainer and set aside to cool completely. Season to taste with sea salt and set aside. At this point, the lentils can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Prepare the butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Use a peeler or a knife to peel the rind from the squash. Slice across the squash about 1/3 from the bottom where it starts to narrow. Usually the bulbous bottom part of the squash is where the seeds are and the upper neck portion is free of seeds. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and pulp from the squash as best as you can manage. Cut the squash into slices about 1/4-1/3 inch thick and across into a dice. You might find that the center core portion of the longer neck of the squash is a bit spongy. Discard that piece. Toss the prepared squash pieces with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the pieces are slightly browned and caramelized. For further detailed information and step by step photographs of preparing the squash see my recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash. At this point, the prepared squash can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

If you are seeding the pomegranate from fresh whole pomegranates, I suggest purchasing one of my absolute favorite kitchen gadgets, The Pomegranate Tool. For directions on how to use the tool see my recipe for Pomegranate and Citrus Salad with Brussels Sprouts. At this point, the seeds can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the prepared lentils, butternut squash, and pomegranate.

Add the fresh herbs and combine.

If you are preparing the salad ahead of time, either wait to combine the greens and the lentil mixture or top the greens with the lentil mixture and cover with plastic wrap. When it is time to serve the salad add the pistachios and dressing to taste and toss to combine.

As much as I like the addition of the greens to this dish, I have to admit that the lentil mixture is fantastic on its own with just a bit of dressing. It will also hold up much longer on a buffet table as well as in the refrigerator.