The past couple evenings, I’ve been joined by a warm cup of chai tea, the kids are off to school, I’m planning our annual visit to the apple orchard and, one of the most telling signs of fall — I just roasted my first squash, which makes it officially fall. Once you roast a squash there’s no going back.
Sure I’ll miss wearing sandals and evening walks still lit by the sun, but I’ll give that up for cool evenings tucked under a blanket with a good book and some tea. And quiet mornings with the kids off to school.
This salad made it official. In it squash sizzles with maple syrup and just a touch of orange zest. It softens then crisps around the edges in the oven. The roasted squash then sits on top of a bed of spinach and lentils that have been tossed in a thyme-laced dressing. There’s nutty Gruyère and toasted hazelnuts that bring a warmth just when the days have gotten a bit chilled.
I’ll be honest, sometimes my love of butternut squash is dampened by the task of hacking into its tough flesh and chipping away at the thick skin. It’s not the easiest process but it’s a worthwhile process as the prepackaged peeled squash has little flavor and the texture is lacking.
My preferred method is to peel the squash with a vegetable peeler until the deep orange flesh appears. Lop off the top and bottom, then slice right through the middle. I’ll clean out the seeds with a spoon, then lay the squash cut-side down and cut in 1/4″ pieces.
Once you’ve finished that task, the rest of the work on this salad is quick and easy.
Maple roasted squash and lentil salad recipe
Maple Roasted Squash
- 1/2 small butternut squash peeled, seeded and sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss the squash with the olive oil, salt, black pepper, maple syrup and orange zest. Roast in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until tender throughout and golden, crisp in parts.
Makes about ½ cup
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together garlic, thyme, honey, mustard and champagne vinegar. Continue to whisk while pouring in the oil until well combined. Alternately, you can combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the salad
- 2 cups cooked lentils
- 4 ounces (about 5 cups) fresh spinach
- 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup finely grated Gruyère
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Toss the spinach and lentils with the dressing then place on a large platter. Top with the hazelnuts, Gruyère and parsley, then finish with the roasted squash.