Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Healthy Butternut Squash & Lentil Salad with Soy Balsamic Dressing

I cannot express how much I love this salad. I know what you're saying - it's a salad ... how good can it really be? Really though, this salad is excellent in every way. I'm telling you now you should try it and here's why:
     First, it's easy. You basically steam the squash, cook the lentils, put them on greens, cover with dressing, and you are good to go.
     Second, it's super-healthy. You are practically getting a whole day's servings of vegetables in one meal, plus the lentils are one of the best sources of non-meat protein out there.
     Third (and perhaps most importantly), it's really tasty and very filling. The combination of the squash, lentils, and flavorful balsamic vinaigrette are a perfect blend, and leave you feeling content and satisfied when you're done.
     Oh yeah, and did I mention how pretty it is? And one more thing (I told you I just can't stop talking about it!), the leftover ingredients can be easily stored away then combined the next day into a fantastic lunch.
     Feel free to try the salad now...

Butternut Squash Lentil Salad with Soy Balsamic Dressing
PREP: 15 minutes           COOK: 20-30 minutes            READY IN: 45 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
pic name       pic name      pic name


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5-6 cups total)
  • 1 cup green lentils (sometimes called brown lentils)
  • 6-8 cups fresh baby spinach (or other salad greens)
  • 2 cups chopped red cabbage (optional)
  • sesame seeds and/or pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
For the Dressing (*or see my Simple Tip below):
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon honey


  1. Steam the butternut squash for 20-30 minutes, until you can poke them easily with a fork but they aren't mushy. (*See the Simple Tip below for tips on steaming.)
  2. At the same time, sort the lentils (I have found rocks before amongst my lentils), and place in 3 cups salty water (I add 1-2 teaspoons salt) on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and let simmer for 20-30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and drain immediately. 
  3. Prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.
  4. Place the desired amount of spinach (or other greens) and cabbage (if using) on a large plate.  When the squash and lentils are ready, arrange on top of the greens, and pour the dressing over. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or pepitas, and serve immediately. 
*Simple Tips:
  • While I do love the dressing that goes with this salad, I often don't feel like going to the trouble of mixing my own dressing. This salad also works extremely well with a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette. 
  • Recipes often call for butternut squash to be roasted, but I prefer steaming because for me it is simpler. We have a combined rice cooker/steamer, so it is really easy to just put the squash into the steamer basket, turn it on, and it's perfectly steamed within 20 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, check out this video on how to improvise a steamer.


    1 serving (without dressing)    279 calories   1.9 g fat   53.3 g carbs    16.4 g protein    6.2 g sugar   
 1 serving (with dressing)    410 calories   15.9 g fat   55.4 g carbs    16.7 g protein    7.7 g sugar   

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

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