Racing time: Roasted Squash and Puy Lentil Salad - Roasted Squash and Puy Lentil Salad

Lunchtime lentils

It’s not exactly salad time yet but, when a gloriously sunny Sunday coincided with the local point-to-point races and the family coming round for a pre-race lunch, I couldn’t resist poking out an old bag of puy lentils (still working my way through two kitchen’s-worth of ingredients!) to combine with the last of our Ushiki Kuri squash.

This squash variety is due to become a garden staple – we had a fantastic yield last autumn, they stored well and the skin is thin enough to be eaten, all good things from a small garden patch. I decided to give the squash a Moroccan accent, roasting it with a sprinkling of Ras el Hanout. The current blend that I am using is a sweetly aromatic sachet that I got while in Morocco, and contains, amongst other spices, black and white peppers, cloves, maniguette or grains of paradise, ginger and rose petals. You can find numerous recipes for Ras el Hanout online (including this one from Greg Malouf) or, for this recipe, you can use a mixture of spices that you find appealing – cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne pepper would do it for me.

I served the roasted squash on a bed of warm lentils, which I tossed in a chilli-spiked, citrus dressing, alongside a large empty-out-the-fridge-and-garden Tortilla, or Spanish Omelette, filled with potatoes, leeks, broccoli and bacon. Then it was off to the races – although some people were luckier with their betting than others!

Roasted Squash and Puy Lentil Salad

Squash – 1 small Ushiki Kuri or Butternut Squash, peeled if necessary
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Ras el Hanout – 1-2 teaspoons
Puy Lentils – 250g
Bay leaves – 1, either fresh or dried
Orange – 1, juiced and zested
Lemon – ½, juiced
Olive oil – 125mls
Red chilli – 1, deseeded and sliced thinly
Garlic – 1 clove, crushed
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Cut the squash into segments, place in a bowl, sprinkle with the olive oil and Ras al Hanout and toss until well coated. Spread out on a baking tray, pointed ends upright, and roast for approximately 35 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, place the lentils in a saucepan with a bay leaf, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes until cooked through. They should be tender but still have some bite and retain their shape. While they are cooking, whisk the orange juice and zest, lemon juice, olive oil, chilli and garlic together. Season to taste and toss with the drained lentils while they are still warm.

Pile the lentils high on a serving plate and place the roasted squash on top. Serve while still warm.

Serves 4.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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