Autumn Lentil Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing packs so much flavor and texture into every bite, yet is surprisingly simple to make. It can be prepared ahead, too, making it perfect for a busy weeknight or a stunning addition to your holiday table.
Until just a few years ago I didn't know how easy it was to make lentils at home. I thought they were complicated and took a long time to make, and were therefore not worth the effort.
How very wrong I was!
If you can make pasta, I now know, you can make lentils. Seriously.
All you need to do is rinse the lentils (no soaking required!) and boil them until tender. The entire process takes no more than 20-25 minutes.
The fact that lentils are also packed with protein, are extremely affordable, and amazingly delicious means they are now a weeknight staple at our house.
I wanted to create a fall- and winter-inspired recipe to showcase lentils that would work both for a weeknight meal and also for a holiday gathering.
For this recipe the lentils are tossed with an easy, homemade garlicky maple-mustard dressing, simply roasted delicata squash, and Pepper Greens. The results are simple enough for everyday yet special enough for the holiday table.
I love delicata squash here because it's easy to cut and doesn't require peeling and Pepper Greens in this recipe because they are made up of hearty baby greens like arugula, mustard, chard, bok choy, and mizuna.
Basically all the dark, leafy greens I would collect at the farmer's market, but already washed and ready to go.
If you can't find Pepper Greens, look for greens that will stand up to the strong flavors in this salad like arugula or baby kale. If you can't find delicata, peeled, diced butternut squash will work in it's place.
This salad can be made ahead, and I've included some tips on how to prep and store in the recipe. This salad will be on our Thanksgiving table, though I won't be saving it just for the holidays.
It makes a great meal on its own, or as a side, and packs beautifully for lunch the next day. The greens wilt a little and all the flavors absorb and it's just glorious. So cheers to lentils, and squash, and hearty greens; I hope you love this one!
RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS
1 | I used black beluga lentils in this salad because it makes for a beautiful presentation, but if you can't find them French green or even brown lentils will work here.
2 | If you can't find OrganicGirl Pepper Greens, a hearty baby greens mix such as baby kale or arugula would work in its place.
3 | Add goat cheese or feta for a salty, creamy addition.
4 | If you're feeding a resistant eater, pull aside a portion of the cooked lentils prior to tossing with the dressing. Serve the lentils with a little salt, along with roasted squash, pumpkin seeds, and a few greens separately on a plate.
THIS RECIPE IS . . .
Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan
Autumn Lentil Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing
For the Salad
1 cup beluga lentils, rinsed and drained (or substitute green lentils)
1 medium delicata squash
¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 4-oz box OrganicGirl Pepper Greens
For the Maple Mustard Dressing
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Add the lentils to a medium saucepan and cover with at least two inches of water. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 15-25 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender but not mushy. Cooking times vary depending on the type of lentils used, so start testing at 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, slice the delicata squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Slice each half into 1-inch slices (you should end up with half-moon shaped pieces).
4. Place the sliced squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Place in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the squash is golden brown on each side and cooked through.
5. At the same time, place the pumpkin seeds on a baking pan or pie dish and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted and brown. Keep a close eye on the seeds, as they can burn easily.
6. Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking the vinegar, garlic, maple syrup, mustard, and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until the dressing is smooth and creamy.
7. Combine the warm, drained lentils with the dressing in a large bowl, tossing to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes for the dressing to absorb.
8. When ready to serve, toss the dressed lentils with the roasted squash, pumpkin seeds, and greens. Serve immediately.
Serves 2-3 as a main dish and 4-6 as a side.
Make Ahead Notes
The lentils, dressing, pumpkin seeds, and squash can be made up to three days ahead.
Store the lentils and dressing tossed together in the fridge in a tightly sealed container, the squash in the fridge in a tightly sealed container, and the pumpkin seeds in a tightly sealed container in the pantry.
To serve, bring the lentils to room temperature, then toss with with the dressing, pumpkin seeds, squash, and greens. Taste and add additional salt as necessary.