My favourite thing about the holidays is having so much time on my hands. When I am not in a rush, there is no way I would rather spend my day than cooking, and then having a leisurely meal with my friends or family. This recipe came about from one of those days after Christmas. My sister and I spent all morning in the kitchen making this salad and my Baked Kale and Parsley Falafel for a late lunch with our parents. I am sure we could have cooked it up much quicker than we did, but we were both completely content pottering around the kitchen, drinking tea and chatting.
It may seem like there is a lot going on, but it really is much easier than it seems, and the end result is so worth it. Apart from my dad looking a little surprised when we explained there wasn't going to be any meat, it went down a storm, and it was such a filling and comforting meal for a cold day. The falafel was a delicious addition although not completely necessary, but do not skip out on the dressing if you just make the salad - it is amazingly creamy, and adds a much needed sharpness to the earthly sweetness of the roasted butternut squash.
Butternut squash is packed full of B vitamins which do wonders for your body - they can help ease migraine pain, relieve stress, aid memory and help increase serotonin production, keeping you healthy and happy. It will also provide you with lots of immune-boosting vitamin C, which is perfect for the miserable January weather. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse and lentils have so many more benefits than people usually think - not only are they a great source of protein and slow released energy (helping you feel fuller for longer) but they contain folate and magnesium which are key to heart health.
1 butternut squash, do no throw away the seeds
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 stick of celery
1 1/2 cups of lentils (soaked overnight or for as long as possible)
2 handfuls of kale
Seeds from the squash
For the dressing:
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of paprika
De-seed the squash and chop it into chunks. Drizzle it with olive oïl and sprinkle with salt, Pepper and fresh Rosemary, then roast at 180°C until it is soft - this will take about 40 minutes. When it has been cooking for about 30 minutes, chuck the cherry tomatoes in with the squash so they are ready at the same time.
Finely dice the carrot and celery and fry in a little olive oïl. Bring the kettle to the boil, and in boiling water and the lentils and let it simmer until the lentils are cooked - they will soak up lots of water, but you may need to drain the rest before mixing the lentils into the salad.
Blanche the kale quickly in boiling water, just enough to soften it, then leave to drain.
Toss the squash seeds in olive oïl, good quality salt and a sprinkling of paprika and cumin, then cook in a frying pan on a hob, tossing them often, until they are nicely browned. Watch them carefully because they will burn very quickly.
For the dressing, simply whisk all ingredients together, altering quantities to your taste.
Once everything is ready, toss it all in a big salad bowl, sprinkle with spicy squash seeds and drizzle with tangy lemon-tahini dressing and serve!