Monday, January 05, 2015

Butternut Squash - Lentil - Feta Salad

Cook a pound of lentils in enough water to become tender.

Put ¼ cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, and turn the heat to simmer. Reduce the volume a bit, but to more than half the starting volume.

Take 3 butternut squash, and cut at the stem end and just before the bulge at the other end (where the seeds are). Reserve the end with the seeds. Cut into rounds about an inch thick, and peel. (If you have a food vegetable peeler that will peel the squash easily, do this before cutting into rounds. Otherwise, peel the rounds with a sharp knife.) Cut the peeled rounds into chunks about 3/4" in size.

Put the cut squash into a bowl, and drizzle on ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle on a Tablespoon of ground cumin, a Tablespoon of Pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika) and a teaspoon of coarse smoked salt. Toss well, and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350◦ for 30 minutes, then turn with a spatula and bake another 15 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender.

Gently combine the lentils and squash in a serving bowl,being sure to get any residual squash pieces or juice from the baking pan. Fold in a pound of crumbled or cubed feta cheese.

Drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar, and serve, warm or cool.

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Scoop the seeds out of the remaining pieces of squash, and put in a bowl of water. Remove the squah flesh that clings to the seeds (it will be easier than you think). Rinse the seeds well, sprinkle with coarse smoked salt (or Kosher salt if smoked salt is not available) and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350◦ for about 15  minutes, striing them gently every 5 minutes, until toasted but not burnt.

Place in a container and enjoy as a snack.

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Place the remaining pieces of squash (seeds scooped out, still unpeeled) and place them on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350◦ for about 20  minutes, or until fork-tender. Because the squash is thinner, it won't take too long. Cool, scrape the squash from the shell, and reserve for a recipe that calls for cooked winter squash, perhaps a soup or stew.

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