How do you make a Lentil Salad irresistible? Load it up with warm cinnamon-laced pumpkin, a handful of greens, a sprinkling of candied walnuts, and finish with a honey-spiced red wine vinegar dressing.
It’s a big pile of vegetable goodness made seriously tasty.
After a (very!) extended water break, the inaugural Holiday Salad Marathon has resumed! Today – lentils made fabulous:
Spiced Pumpkin Lentil Salad
I had someone in my team make this to see if she liked it because it’s a little left field – something I just threw together one day as a, “Hmm, I reckon this could be tasty …”
In her words: “Sorry it took so long, I couldn’t get excited about it … but now I can’t stop eating it!!! OMG!!” (Yes, we are both gratuitous exclamation mark-users.)
It’s earthy, it’s sweet, it’s savoury. There’s great textural contrast. But most of all, it’s the subtle spicing in it that really adds interest: cinnamon and allspice.
Who knew canned lentils could be so fabulous??!
What goes in this Pumpkin Lentil Salad
Here’s what you need for this salad:
- Lentils – Canned for the express option, but I’ve also include notes in the recipe for using dried;
- Pumpkin – Any type, or butternut squash. Sweet potato would work well here too;
- Rocket/arugula – I like it for the peppery flavour it adds and also the shape of the leaves contrasts nicely against the lentils. Baby spinach would also work well, but I’d probably slice it a bit to make it easier to eat with the lentils. Finely sliced kale would also work, but marinate it first using the method in this recipe (it softens the leaves, and makes it tastier);
- Red onion – For a touch of freshness and bite;
- Thyme – A lovely, warm and earthy herb that goes well with all the flavours going on in this salad; and
- Spices – Cinnamon and allspice. Some for the pumpkin, some in the dressing.
And here’s what you need for the dressing:
- Honey – The sweetening agent as well as for thickening the dressing so it clings to the lentils;
- Red wine vinegar – You can substitute this with white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar or even cider vinegar. The dressing has extra flavour added to it, so we can be flexible here;
- Extra virgin olive oil – The better the quality, the better your dressings; and
- Garlic, salt and pepper – Seasonings/flavour.
Optional Extra: Honey-Cinnamon Candied Walnuts
For everyday purposes, I would just finish with a handful of plain chopped walnuts.
But if you want to go aaalllll the way, make Honey-Cinnamon Candied Walnuts. It’s that extra-special touch that bumps this salad up into the Company-Worthy category!
All you need to do is toss walnuts with honey, cinnamon and salt, then bake for 15 minutes. Cool to crisp, and you’re done! (Tip: Make extra for you to nibble … chef’s treat!)
This Lentil Salad is a great meal-worthy salad option or work lunch idea. Meat-free, nutritious, filling, and it keeps well for a few days.
Plus, I like that it’s an interesting way to use canned lentils which, let’s face it, isn’t always the most inspiring thing in the pantry!! – Nagi x
PS. No video for these Holiday Salad Marathon recipes. But if you really want one, pop a request in below. I’d be happy to make this for lunch any day and shoot it for you.
What is the Holiday Salad Marathon?
This was my inaugural Christmas recipe countdown where I had planned to share 30 salad recipes in a row until Christmas Eve – something completely different to people’s usual baking countdowns!
Life, however, got in the way and I never crossed the finish line before Christmas. After an extended water break, I’ve finally resumed!!!
These salads are in addition to my regular 3 new recipes a week. Because aren’t you bored of the usual tomato-cucumber-lettuce garden salad routine??
Click here to see all the Holiday Salad Marathon recipes to date!
Honey-Cinnamon Pumpkin Lentil Salad
Filling, nutritious, and something different. It makes an excellent vegetable meal option or work lunch idea, else as a substantial side.
- 400g / 14 oz pumpkin or butternut squash (pre-peeled weight), peeled then sliced in 1cm / 1/2″ thick slices then bite size wedges
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp all spice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 800g/ 28oz canned lentils , well drained & patted dry (Note 1)
- 2 cups (packed) rocket/arugula leaves (preferably baby, otherwise hand-tear large ones)
- ½ red onion , finely sliced
- 3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Honey Walnuts (optional, can just use plain walnuts, Note 2):
- ¾ cup walnuts (or pecans)
- 1 ½ tbsp honey (must be runny, so warm if super-thick), or maple syrup
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove (small), finely grated
- ¼ tsp allspice powder
- ¼ tsp ginger powder
- Salt and pepper
Pan-roasted spiced pumpkin:
Toss pumpkin with 1 tbsp olive oil, cinnamon, all spice and salt.
Pan roast: Heat a large non stick skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add about half the pumpkin, spreading out into one layer. Cook for 3 minutes until golden. Turn and cook the other side for 3 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove and let cool until just warm.
Toss: Place walnuts in a bowl, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and salt. Mix, spread on paper-lined baking tray.
Bake: Bake at 180°C/350°F (160°C fan) for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway. Leave to cool, then use fingers to roughly break walnuts up into slightly smaller pieces.
Dressing: Place ingredients in a jar and shake well.
Toss: Place lentils, rocket, red onion, thyme and pumpkin in a large bowl. Pour over most of the Dressing, then gently toss.
Plate up: Pile up on serving platter. Sprinkle with candied walnuts. Drizzle over remaining Dressing, then serve!
To cook your own, you will need 1 cup dried green or brown lentils. Cook per this recipe (including flavourings).
2. Walnuts – Candied walnuts adds an extra wow factor here, but it’s also lovely with just plain walnuts (for a quicker option!). Pecans will work just as well. For a non-nut option, try pepitas. Just something to add some nutty crunch! Textures are always good in a salad.
3. Substitutions – lots of possibilities here, whilst still achieving a similar balance of flavours!
- Pumpkin – switch with sweet potato, winter squash
- Greens – spinach, marinated shredded kale (use this method), silverbeet (chard/swiss chard), anything that can be sliced so it kind of “melds” well with lentils nicely
- Walnuts – per Note 2 above
- Red wine vinegar – any other type of vinegar that’s not as harsh as plain white vinegar. eg. sherry, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, even cider vinegar.
4. Storage – Keeps well for 3 days. Best to keep Dressing separate if you can, but even if dressed, it keeps better than most salads.
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings.
Life of Dozer
Spied something tasty. It wasn’t lentils……