Warm Butternut Squash, Lentil & Feta Salad

I always enjoy making something special for my Husband and yesterday being Valentine’s Day was a great excuse to whip up something delicious for us for lunch.  We both work out of our home so having lunch together is normal, but not always do we have something elegant.  More like a turkey sandwich eaten standing up while we chat in the kitchen.  So I decided to make him a nice sit down at the table kinda lunch. I knew we were going out for an extravagant French-inspired dinner at Latah Bistro so I knew I wanted to make him a light salad.

If you haven’t heard, I still have 8 butternut squash in my basement.  Yes, the number has dwindled since I was spouting off the number 30, but I’m running out of squashspiration.  Well, at least until I dreamed up this plate of deliciousness.  It takes a bit of time, but while the squash is roasting, you can get everything else prepped and ready to go and be eating a plate of goodness within 45 minutes.

Before we get off to the recipe, I thought I’d share something interesting with you.  If you’ve been following along on my blog for the past year or so, you’ll recall that my photos used to not be so fantastic.  Like this one.  Not appetizing at all.  Anyway, if you’re a budding photog like me, then you might find this part of this post interesting.

This photo was taken right before my husband and I sat down to eat this salad yesterday – photo taken with my iPad.  Appetizing??  NOT!

After I scarfed down this plate of not so great looking salad (don’t let the image fool you – it’s the BOMB).  I headed to my fave picture taking spot – my living room.  I set up a card table next to a giant window that looks out to my raised bed garden and proceeded to gussy it up.  I plated some of the salad on a new plate I just bought at Dollar Tree and tossed on a fork that was most likely purchased at a garage sale (I have a drawer full of old silverware).  Then it was time to bounce some light.  Here’s the part about being a “budding photog” – I don’t have a slew of fancy equipment.  Just a decent camera.  Here’s what the table looks like from afar – notice my “fancy” equipment?

To the left is a 10×14″ white card stock and to the right is a silver platter that my grandmother gave me propped up with a box that was nearby.  The card table is covered with a linen scrap that I bought at a garage sale.  Super swanky – right?  Anyway, with a little ingenuity you can produce a decent photo.  Like this….

Warm Butternut Squash, Lentil & Feta Salad
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Ingredients
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 cups chicken stock or water
2 cups dry brown lentils
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons roasted pistachios, chopped

Vinaigrette
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
1 Preheat oven to 425.  On a large rimmed baking sheet add the butternut squash cubes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper and 1 tablespoon chili powder.  Toss to coat the squash.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Test doneness by piercing the squash with a fork.  Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils and turn to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Or until the lentils are tender but not mushy.  Turn off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
3 In a small mason jar add the vinaigrette ingredients and add the lid.  Shake vigorously to combine.
4 In a large bowl add the red pepper, feta, spinach, parsley, pistachios, squash, lentils and vinaigrette.  Toss to combine and serve immediately.

Makes 6 Main Course Servings.


Websites/Blogs that inspire me to be a better photographer….

  • Gourmande in the Kitchen - Sylvie never ceases to amaze me.  Her photography skills make me swoon and I use her blog as food inspiration as well as photography.  She just rocks!
  • Living Mostly Meatless - Jessie and I are new friends and I admire her photography tremendously.  She makes everything look so effortless and beautiful.
  • A Thought for Food - Brian has a magnificent eye.  His photos are over the top gorgeous…and so are his recipes.
  • Jenn Cuisine - Jenn.  Where do I begin?  She’s an absolutely amazing photographer.  Every photo is immaculate.
  • Creative Culinary - Barb takes fantastic photos and her recipes make me drool too.

 

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