This is my way of trying to keep promises to myself. Promises about eating right, eating less meat, and being more resourceful. Making promises to do better is great. I feel like I have mini-new year’s resolutions about every month. But the harder part seems to be keeping them. I can make really good promises, but acting on them takes work. I have started to understand that training your mind and your will power is like training your body. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets!
So this is like my work out. For my mind and my lunch box. It starts with:
Lentils are something I have loved for awhile. Right up there with split pea and ham soup, marinated garbanzos, black beans with onions and garlic. Legumes are lovely.
This salad has all the flavors of fall too. Roasted butternut squash, cranberries, and red onion.
Goat cheese sprinkled on top… mmm. What? Oh. Right. Resolutions. I picked lentils because they are my “back on track” food. I can eat a bowl of lentils and feel like a super health nut. They kind of get me going in the right direction again, a little like a reset button. Bonus: they have a ton of fiber and protein and keep you full for hours.
I put my lentils over some salad greens, but you can eat them just as they are.
I packed up this lunch and met my mom at a spot in between our two downtown office buildings. It happened to be a hotel lobby that had fancy chairs and a cozy fireplace. As the rain trickled down outside on the street, we dug in to our salads and felt pretty proud of ourselves. These resolutions just might keep.
- 2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) green lentils
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups roasted and slightly cooled butternut squash, cubed (or thawed slightly if frozen)
- 1/3 cup cranberries
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. strong mustard
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Squeeze of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles
- Rinse lentils well, drain and place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they are still a bit firm. You do not want to over cook the lentils, or this salad will turn to mush!
- While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine.
- When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and return to the pot. Add the butternut squash and the cranberries. I like to add the cranberries while this lentils are still warm because the heat (and small amount of residual liquid) helps plump the berries up a bit.
- While everything is still a little warm, pour the dressing over the lentil in the pot. The warmth will help the dressing flavor the lentils and squash. Give a squeeze of lemon juice over everything. Add some salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle a little freshly chopped parsley overt the top.
- To serve: Place one handful of mixed greens in a bowl or lunch container, then scoop 1 and 1/2 cups of lentil salad on top and scatter some goat cheese crumbles over it. Serve, or pack for lunch.
- This can be made a day or two ahead, and the lentils keep well in the fridge. You can even freeze this whole salad, in 1 1/2 cup portions, leaving the goat cheese out. Just thaw in the fridge the night before you want to eat it and top with cheese if desired.