November 11, 2010

Ugly, yet delicious

Don't judge a book by its cover! This meal, while ugly and kind of strange looking, is absolutely delicious. It's Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash with Lentils and Goat Cheese. I just finished the leftovers for lunch and I want more.

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (check it out for a great picture of what this recipe is supposed to look like) and knew that it would be perfect for us. We both love roasted squash and the tang of goat cheese. Deb recommends adding in the toasted squash seeds for a bit of crunch and I'm very glad I did! They were crispy and salty little surprises in the dish.

The actual recipe took a little longer than I anticipated, but Alex was more than willing to help out when I needed to sit. 35 weeks down...5 to go. EEK!

The only changes I will make for next time would be to double the spices on the squash (made the changes in the posted recipe, but feel free to adjust for your taste). I couldn't really taste them after roasting, and I want that punch of spice. I didn't have paprika, so I used chili powder with a little cayenne thrown in. Great combination, but still not enough as the goat cheese is pretty strong.

This works great as a side dish, or as a vegetarian main course for two, along with a nice salad or some crispy bread. Thanks for another winner, Smitten Kitchen!

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Bon Appetit

Deb says: "If you’d like to toast the seeds, simply clean them off, rinse and pat them dry and toast them in the oven on an oiled baking sheet, sprinkled with salt." I recommend doing this! They are delicious.

3/4 cup black or green lentils
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (1-inch cubes...from about a 2-pound squash)
3 TBS olive oil, divided
2-3 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
1-2 tsp coarse salt
4 cups baby arugula (I skipped this)
1 cup soft crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves (skipped)
1 TBS red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste (I added another TBS)
Roasted seeds (about 1/2 cup) from your butternut squash (optional; see note above)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Cool.

Meanwhile, soak lentils for 10 minutes in a small bowl, then drain. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water, then drain and cool.

Combine lentils, squash, any oil you can scrape from the baking sheet with arugula, if using, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and extra vinegar, if desired (I felt it needed it). Divide among plates and pass with remaining goat cheese to sprinkle.