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Recipe: Lentil, Goat Cheese, Roasted Squash and Zucchini Salad

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

We usually think of lentils as warming comfort food for the cold weather months, but they add body and substance to salads perfect for a summer potluck.

Jenny Chandler’s “The Better Bean Cookbook: More than 160 Modern Recipes for Beans, Chickpeas, and Lentils to Tempt Meat-Eaters and Vegetarians Alike” (Sterling Epicure, $24.95) covers legumes for every season, from those curried winter stews to lighter fare like this lentil goat cheese salad tossed with roasted squash and zucchini. You could use any combination of gently cooked summer or winter squash, including those you’ve sauteed in a pan or fired on a grill.

Lentil, Goat Cheese, Roasted Squash and Zucchini Salad

Use Puy or Castelluccio brown lentils if you can because they aren’t as likely to break down if you overcook them. Mix in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard at the end if you want even more tang in this picnic-friendly salad, which you can serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

1 1/4 cups Puy or Castelluccio lentils, rinsed

1 bay leaf

1 small red onion or 6 greens onions, finely sliced

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into large dice

2 zucchini, sliced into thick chunks

1/2 tsp. chili flakes

1 garlic clove, crushed

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

7 oz. good, soft goat cheese, roughly diced or crumbled

10-15 fresh mint leaves, ripped

Put the lentils in a pan with the bay leaf and cover with about 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, until lentils are tender but still intact.

Meanwhile, if you are using red onion rather than spring onions, pour the vinegar over the onion and leave to soak. The onion will turn fuchsia pink and become softer in both texture and flavor.

Prepare the squash: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the squash in a large roasting pan and roll it around in 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown and soften. Now turn the squash over carefully, and add the zucchini and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and chili flakes. Roast for another 10 minutes.

When the lentils are tender, drain them but reserve the cooking liquid. While still warm, add the red onion or spring onions, vinegar, garlic and remaining 4 Tbsp. olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly, and stir in parsley, if using.

Stir the roasted vegetables into the lentil salad while they are still warm and salt the salad. It may need more salt, pepper, olive oil or vinegar. Gentle stir in the goat cheese and mint and serve. Serves 4.

— From “The Better Bean Cookbook: More than 160 Modern Recipes for Beans, Chickpeas, and Lentils to Tempt Meat-Eaters and Vegetarians Alike” by Jenny Chandler (Sterling Epicure, $24.95)