Smoky Maple Lentil Salad

March 11, 2013

Foodblog-3919

When I’m meal planning for the week I try to designate one night as “bean night.” This can range from a Mexican bowl of pinto beans to a bean soup to a prepared lentil salad like this one. Bonus points if I can make it in advance! Dinner hour with a baby is so chaotic that every minute we can save by prepping earlier in the day helps.

I love lentils, but after this meal I had when I was barely pregnant with morning sickness just beginning, I just couldn’t go near them for a while. But they are so nutritious, easy to prepare and versatile that I should have them once a week at least!

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With saving time on my mind, I picked up a bag of frozen butternut squash. I LOVE b-nut squash, but I absolutely hate the peeling, scraping and dicing that goes along with it. I figured I’d give this a try. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as a freshly prepared b-nut and I was right, but for the ease of putting it in the oven frozen with a few daps of butter, salt and some maple syrup drizzled on top, I give it an A- and will be buying it again.

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Seamane and Rob gave us this amazing jar of maple syrup for Christmas. So thick and ….syrupy!

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I had wanted to use kale for this recipe, but Matt came home with collard greens, and they ended up being just as good. Chewy greens for the win.

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We enjoyed the salad warm for dinner one night and served it atop of salad greens for lunch the next day. Finally we made lentil burgers with it the next evening – just added an egg, mashed it into patties and cooked in some sunflower oil. So many ways to morph the leftovers.

By the way, that’s goat feta on top – the most amazing feta cheese there is!

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Smoky Maple Lentil Salad

Keywords: entree vegetarian lentils kale feta butternut squash Weeknights winter fall summer

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1.5 cups dry green lentils (they whole their shape better than brown)
  • 10 ounces of butternut squash (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head of greens – collards, kale, chard
  • 5 ounces feta or goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp garlic gold or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sprinkle black pepper
  • 3 drops Liquid Smoke (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook lentils according to package, seasoning with veggie broth or salt
  2. Toast walnuts in a dry skillet until fragrant
  3. Roast butternut squash for 30 minutes at 400* in a little olive oil and sprinkle of maple syrup until browned on the edges
  4. Steam greens until wilted
  5. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and whisk to combine
  6. Mix all together and top with cheese
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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Grace March 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

I love lentil salad! Did you see the recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen on lentil salads? They recommend soaking them first in a brine then cooking them in the oven (!) so they will best retain their shape.

And OMG, you don’t have to peel/seed/chop a butternut squash, wow that sounds like a lot of unnecessary work! Just bake it whole in the oven and then let it cool a bit; the skin just slides off and you can easily scoop out all of the seeds when you cut it up to eat it. Super easy!

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2 KathEats March 11, 2013 at 8:47 am

But if you want butternut cubes, you have to peel + chop!

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3 Grace March 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

You can still cut it into cubes after it’s cooked, it’s a lot easier!

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4 KathEats March 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

It’s not all mush!? So you only cook partly?

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5 Grace March 11, 2013 at 8:57 am

I cook it all the way through, but it’s no more mushy than peeled, cubed and roasted butternut squash; I can still cut it into cubes after it’s fully cooked. Yes, you won’t get as much Maillard reaction by cooking it whole, but that’s not as big of a deal to me since it saves me so much work, and I imagine that it’s still miles above frozen butternut squash.

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6 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) March 11, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I’ve used frozen to save time, too. It’s really not bad. Frozen vegetables are picked at their prime nutrition where as fresh are usually picked before they are actually all the way ripe. For more info check out this article by Eating Well: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/fresh_vs_frozen_vegetables_are_we_giving_up_nutrition_fo

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7 Carly @ Snack Therapy March 11, 2013 at 8:44 am

I can just imagine that the salty/sweet combo of this makes for a super satisfying dinner. I’ve never ever prepared lentils on my own… And I need to! This might be the dish to start with.

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8 Jody March 11, 2013 at 8:47 am

I’ve been loving butternut squash lately too! Have you looked in the produce section for pre-cut butternut? I go to Wegmans….I know not every store carries as much as they do, but they have regular pre-cut, organic pre-cut, and bulk pre-cut. Totally worth a little extra money so I don’t have to worry about chopping my fingers off :)

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9 KathEats March 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

Yes, I need to get that sometime toon.

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10 Amelia March 11, 2013 at 8:55 am

I think TJ’s sells it in their refrigerator section. Not sure what the quality/price comparison is. Although, I think I would prefer frozen precut over fresh precut since you never know when they cut it.

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11 Jessica March 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm

both Trader Joe’s & Costco sell pre-cut butternut squash. I don’t like squash but my husband loves it and says the quality is great!

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12 Lynn @ the actor's diet March 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

Love that frozen bnut squash!!!

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13 kim@hungryhealthygirl March 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

Looks delish! I love lentils and really like incorporating them into my meals. Mostly, I just have them tossed over a beastly salad. Have a great Monday!

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14 Lindsey @ Pas de Deux March 11, 2013 at 8:52 am

This looks delicious, and I love the suggestions for “re-purposing” the leftovers! Was the goat feta homemade or store bought?

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15 KathEats March 11, 2013 at 9:08 am

Store bought from WF – it’s amazing!!

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16 Amelia March 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

Dang, this is a very delicious looking dish! I forget about lentils too. I just may have to make something like this for dinner tonight (Meatless Monday) based on what I can find in my bare kitchen! ;)

Don’t you just love REAL maple syrup? The dark stuff is the absolute best there is!!! Oh, and thanks for the reminder that I need garlic gold!

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17 Amy March 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm

why not use regular garlic?

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18 lisa fine March 11, 2013 at 8:59 am

My fiance and I are both vegetarians, so we eat a LOTS of beans! Last night I made a big pot of curried split pea soup, and usually once or twice a week I’ll soak a pot of beans overnight to cook up in the morning. That usually lasts us a few days, or I freeze some to save for another time.

Beans are such a cheap, healthy, easy thing to have on hand!

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19 Spice Chicken March 12, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Hey Lisa, I’m a bean freak myself. One of my faves is baked beans in the slow cooker. So tasty!

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20 Ali @ Peaches and Football March 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

Walnuts, lentils, and butternut squash? I’m sold! I need to find the pre-cut bags because that would save a TON of time. I hate peeling and cubing squash. Definitely want to start cooking for with lentils too – they are so good for you and the more I read about them, the more I am sold on the nutritional aspect!

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21 Alex @ Raw Recovery March 11, 2013 at 9:13 am

The combination of the smoky and maple flavors sound really good! I had bbq lentils last week and they were delicious

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22 Ashlee@HisnHers March 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

I just recently tried goat cheese (I gave up all dairy for the last 2.5 years until lately) an HATED it the first time around. The second time, however, I LOVED it! I guess it’s all in how you prepare it!

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23 Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health March 11, 2013 at 9:17 am

This sounds so good! I also love butternut squash but hate working for it. I usually buy the fresh, already cubed kind at Whole Foods but now that I know the frozen is good, I’ll have to give it a try.

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24 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats March 11, 2013 at 9:29 am

I have the same feelings about butternut squash: I LOVE it but it is by far the hardest squash to deal with. I didn’t know you could buy it frozen, I’ll have to check that out!

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25 Susan H @ The Food Allergy Chronicles March 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

I love lentils and beans…the combination of flavours sounds delish! :)

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26 Marie March 11, 2013 at 9:49 am

Where are Faith and Tate?

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27 KathEats March 11, 2013 at 10:19 am

Busy as bees! Faith teaches lots of dance and fitness classes in the evenings so it’s been really hard to find time to get together. We had drinks with them two weekends ago and reminisced about the days when we were new to town and our businesses were still concepts.

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28 Caitlin March 11, 2013 at 10:06 am

lentils are my favorite! great recipe!

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29 Jane @ Not Plain So Jane March 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

Looks delicious! I’ll have to try to frozen butternut squash. Sometimes convenience just trumps all else!

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30 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige March 11, 2013 at 10:34 am

Yum! I love that brand of butternut squash, too. The same brand makes the BEST frozen tri-berries. Delicious.

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31 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) March 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

I LOVE lentils! I just had a lentil salad with an over easy egg on it! These sound delicious!

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32 Anna @ Tough Lipstick March 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

This looks so good! I love lentils – they’re delicious and cheap. WIN WIN!

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33 Sara @ fitcupcaker March 11, 2013 at 11:26 am

how convenient, also dont enjoy prepping butternut squash or any kind of squash so this would be perfect!

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34 Liz @ iheartvegetables March 11, 2013 at 11:47 am

That looks totally delicious, Kath! I’ve been looking for more lentil recipes!

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35 Sarah March 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I love lentil salad, especially with feta. I have to ask, what is the appeal of kale? I know it’s nutritious, but does it have some advantage over collards or spinach or chard? I really hate kale and I’m wondering why it is featured in so many healthy recipes (not just yours) when a different leafy vegetable would taste better and probably be equally nutritious.

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36 KathEats March 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I like it because I find it allllmost to be sweet when cooked compared to some of the more bitter greens. I like the texture the most too. But if you don’t care for it, go with the others!

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37 Connie March 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

Sarah, texture and taste aside, kale has a higher vitamin content than collards and chard, particularly vitamins C and K, and is also higher in calcium. Spinach has more calcium and iron than kale, and I think it’s slightly higher in vitamin B12 too, but not as high in C or K. In the end, though, any leafy green is better than none!

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38 Jen March 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Mmm, this sounds great! Loosely based off of one if your posts recently, I made a mix of TJ’s smoked trout, lentils, goat cheese, cucumber, onion and celery with S&P, parsley and balsamic, served over a bed of baby kale. It was delicious! Thanks for pushing me to eat more lentils and fish! I’m 22 weeks PG and want to eat as nutritious as I can!

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39 Katherine March 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm

This looks so good and wholesome, Kath!

http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com

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40 BusyWorkingMama March 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Where did you find the neat lentils? I was scouring my grocery store for some more interesting varieties for naught, apparently. I had a black lentil soup out at lunch on Friday that I desperately wanted to re-create.

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41 Brynn March 11, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Gah! I love, love, love lentils. And, I have a little guy that’s just a bit older than Mazen – I was just reading about introducing legumes last night. We’re going to start with some garbanzo beans this week, I think. But, I digress…

My favorite current lentil dish is pasta w/ roasted cauliflower, garlic, spinach, lentils, caramelized onions, raisins, walnuts, capers, olives & parmesan. Kind of a long ingredient list now that I type it out, but worth it, promise.

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42 Amanda March 19, 2013 at 8:02 am

Brynn – Is this a recipe or do you just throw it all together? Sounds tasty/interesting!

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43 Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama March 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Any recipe with smoky in the title gets my attention. I’ve never tried liquid smoke, but I have a little bottle in my pantry just waiting for a recipe. I think this may be the perfect one to try it out! :-)

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44 Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous! March 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

This looks and sounds delicious. Smothing about smokey just made my mouth water. I agree with you on the apin of cutting up butternut squash. I splurged for the fresh pre-cut butternut squash in the produce section. It was definitely a little more expensive, but at least I know I’ll still have all my fingers at the end of the week.

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45 jodea @ chillichocolatelove.com March 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I was admiring the food… Then noticed your table – beautiful!

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46 Deb March 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Oh. my. goodness! This looks absolutely delicious! I am always looking for creative ways to incorporate more lentils into my diet! As a vegetarian, they are a great way to get some protein and lots of fiber. Yum. :-) Thanks for sharing, Kath!

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47 Maggie March 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I totally agree re: butternut squash. I really love it, but I rarely decide that it is worth the trouble! I’ve tried that frozen kind- it’s not bad considering the time it saves :D They also sell it already peeled/chopped in the produce section at WF and TJ’s..although it’s sort of expensive and not necessarily the freshest!

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48 robin March 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Ive always loved lentils, most people dont seem to know what they are. If I tried feeding this to my husband he fall over in a dead faint.

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49 the Coconut Girl March 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm

I have to double-bag those French lentils at WF because I always overdo it and max the PSI on one bag. They’re that good. A restaurant I worked for in Phila cooked them with an onion pique. On a more general note, I have to say that the meals you pull off with a baby in the house are downright awe-inspiring. Seriously. Appreciation.

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50 Elizabeth March 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm

I love lentils! They’re so versatile and nutty.

I noticed in your recipe that you suggested seasoning the lentils with salt. Every thing I’ve ever read about lentils and my own personal experience has led me to believe that salting lentils before they are fully cooked makes the shells harden. So it might be a good idea to salt the lentils after they’re done cooking!

Also, how do you cook your lentils? There are lots of variations that can lead to lots of different textures, and I buy mine in bulk (no package directions!). I usually like mine a little bit undercooked because I like the texture (especially in soups and stews), but this salad might need something completely different. It might be helpful to have some prep instructions here.

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51 KathEats March 12, 2013 at 8:51 am

Not sure if it’s proper, but I do 2.5:1 lentils to liquid, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and taste test after about 25 minutes. I have heard that about salting beans but I haven’t had trouble with lentils. Maybe because they do get mushy so the harder shell is a good thing?

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52 Alyssa March 12, 2013 at 8:02 am

That looks divine!! I should eat more lentils as well…thanks for the tasty idea!

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53 Kirsten March 12, 2013 at 10:10 am

Kath! I made this last night. SO delicious! I’m excited for lunch leftovers today! Thanks for the idea.

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54 Manny March 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Just finished the dr oz 3 day detox (first one in my life!) feel great and now am very concerned about all my meals. Your pic of the oatmeal inspired me and what I did was use coconut oil in there as well as I’ve just discovered the amazing benefits it has for our health, especially with the brain.
good stuff
thanks

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55 Pat March 17, 2013 at 7:23 am

Bean night is a great idea. : ) I enjoy lentils, and combining it with maple syrup in the dressing sounds yummy. I also like your suggestion of a lentil burger. Sounds like I need to put lentil on my meal plan and grocery list this week.

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