November 6, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad

Reading food magazines, I have come across a ton of pumpkin recipes lately. Since pumpkins are bountiful and priced to sell these days, I decided to give this recipe from Gourmet a shot. For cooking, you want to use sugar pumpkins---they are smaller and tastier than your typical jack-o-lantern. I'd never actually eaten pumpkin outside of a pie, but I sure do love pumpkin in that form so I figured me and a pumpkin dish would get along nicely.

Well, yes and no. The roasted pumpkin in this salad was not quite what I was expecting. The spices I ended up using (I didn't have hot smoked paprika and substituted regular paprika with a dash of cayenne) seemed a little subtle and in the end were not the flavor direction I would have chosen for this dish. I liked the textural addition of the pumpkin and lentils to this salad, but the flavor of the pumpkin itself has a hard time standing up to the salty goat cheese and the shocks of mint. I liked this salad, but if I were to do it again, I would experiment with different roasting spices and/or a different dressing.

Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad
~Print Recipe~
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (either from a package--TJ's!--or from 3/4 cups dried and cooked)
  • 6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled, seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (from one approximately 2 pound pumpkin)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 additional tablespoon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups baby arugula (or other lettuce)
  • 1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds from your pumpkin (I used a great recipe from Simply Recipes)
  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pumpkin in a large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and sea salt. Arrange pumpkin in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn pumpkin over. Continue roasting until tender (10-20 minutes. I took mine out after an additional 15 min. but wish I would have left it in a little longer.) Cool.
  2. Combine lentils, pumpkin and oil from pan (my pan had no oil) with lettuce, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar and 1 tablespoon of oil. (Or, if using a different dressing, leave out oil and vinegar at this point.) Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates (add dressing, if you are using your own) and sprinkle with remaining goat cheese.

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