I really do love my veggies but when the chilly weather arrives I’m less keen on the idea of tucking into a fridge-cold refreshing salad. I always want something that feels a bit more hearty and nourishing.
This vegetarian delight certainly ticks those boxes. The lentils are filling and satisfying, the squash is rich and sweet and the fresh raw beetroot gives the salad a lovely crunch.
I’m not convinced that this salad needs a dressing because it’s already packed with flavour but you can always use a simple balsamic/olive oil dressing or a minted yogurt if you like.
Obviously if you want the salad to be vegan just leave out the cheese (it’ll still be very tasty).
serves 2 generously
250g butternut squash (deseeded)
1 tsp fennel seeds
pinch of salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can of green lentils (drained)
1/2 red chili
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 big handfuls of watercress
50g crumbly cheese (I used Wensleydale)
Cube the butternut squash and toss it in 1/2 tablespoon of the oil, the fennel and salt and pepper. Roast it for 30 minutes at 200°c, tossing halfway through so that it is tender and starting to become golden around the edges.
Whilst the squash is roasting you can prepare the beetroot. Peel and grate (or spiralise) them and then toss them in the balsamic before letting them sit and marinate for a bit.
Peel the shallots and thinly slice them before frying them in the remaining oil. Finely chop the chili, it’s up to you if you want to leave the seeds in or not. Add the chili and the cumin to the shallots and continue to cook until they start to caramelise, then toss in the lentils and warm them through. Add the roasted squash and then you’re ready to assemble the salad.
Tip the warm lentils and squash onto a serving platter and pile on a couple of big handfuls of watercress. Add the beetroot and finish it with a scattering of crumbled cheese.