August sparks my anticipation for fall. Maybe it’s because, only two years out of grad school, I associate August with the start of the school year and the start of the school year meant the arrival of fall.
The start of school meant brand new boots, sweaters that I’d wear even if it was still in the 60s (the A/C was cold!), and the start of the shading of the trees with vibrant oranges and reds.
Without any kids or either of us in school, sometimes the start of the school year passes by without notice now, but never the start of fall. I don’t care if it’s currently 85 degrees here in Seattle (another mini-heat wave); I start craving pumpkin spice in my oatmeal and all things apples once Labor Day appears on the calendar.
You know how stores start stocking Halloween candy in August and Christmas decoration long before the start of Advent? That’s me when it comes to fall foods.
I succumb to a full-fledged squash obsession each fall. I’ll head to the grocery store for bananas and leave with five varieties of squashes in hand. If you were reading my blog last fall, you likely noticed this in my recipes: warm acorn squash salad, butternut squash in muffins, on pizza, and in pie, pumpkin curry, and kabocha oatmeal.
I started early this year with butternut squash when I saw some beautiful squashes from California at our local grocery store. As much effort as I make to shop seasonally, I can’t resist the siren call of a bright orange gourd.
This butternut squash lentil salad will prepare your taste buds for fall’s marvelous plethora of produce while still being appropriately cool and crisp for late summer. The salad is full of nutritious plant-based foods: green lentils, pumpkin seeds, olive oil spinach, butternut squash, and red potatoes. It’s a powerhouse of fiber, healthy fats, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and dozens of other vitamins and minerals.
- 2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
- 2 small red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Ground pepper, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup stock or water
- 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 2 heaping cups spinach
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Heat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the chopped butternut squash and potatoes with 1 teaspoon olive oil, the paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and cook for 35-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the stock (or water) and rinsed lentils in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Drain if necessary and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Toss the spinach with olive oil or dressing of choice. Divide the butternut squash, red potato, lentils, and pumpkin seeds on top of the salads and serve.
You can enjoy it on its own or serve it alongside a meat of choice for extra protein. For busy days, you can prep most of the ingredients ahead of time and simply reheat the lentils, squash, and potatoes before tossing with the other ingredients.
What are your favorite salad toppings right now?
What are your plans for this weekend?
Are you ready for fall or still wishing for a few more weeks of summer?