Simple Summer Meal

There's something about these longer days that makes the idea of cooking a big dinner seem like torture. I just can't be bothered! So we steal an hour away when we can, and (if you're anything like me) you spend all of it in the kitchen. That's precisely what I did on an unusually warm evening last week - created a simple salad, warm at first, but gradually cooled as the afternoon went on. By the time we were ready for dinner, the salad was much cooler than when it was first made - ideal for the weather. The ingredients were chosen pretty randomly. All I knew was that I wanted to a hearty salad with some cubes of butternut squash and ample protein. The rest was just added at will. And it turned out to be great!

The protein comes in the form of green lentils and goat cheese. Healthy fats from the olive oil and sunflower seeds. And the rest are good old fashioned vegetables. I had to look at these photos to remember just what went into the salad, but feel free to throw in what you'd like (or what you have in your kitchen)! This would be an excellent addition to a picnic or barbecue.

Squash and Lentil Salad

Serves 3-4

The particulars:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small butternut squash, seeded and chopped into chunks (keep the skin on)
  • 1 garlic bulb, cut in half around the fattest part of the bulb (keep the skin on)
  • 1 orange pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped (keep the skin on)
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 small log of goat cheese, sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Heat the oven to 425F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the red onion. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the onion has softened. Tip in the green lentils and add 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Cook according to the lentil packet instructions (about 30-40 minutes usually).
  3. Meanwhile, toss the butternut squash and the garlic with some olive oil, salt, and pepper in a roasting dish and place in the hot oven. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. When the lentils and squash are cooked, leave them to cool for 10-15 minutes, before adding to a large bowl. Throw in all other ingredients and toss to combine. Either serve warm or leave to cool before serving.