There was something different in the woods last night. As I ran through them I could see that they were not the same as they have been. I have to confess that I am a little slow on the uptake and it took me a while to figure out what it was. It was the green. The woods are coming back to life after the grey and brown of winter. Spring is spreading its life-giving fingers through the trees and over the ground, colouring everything green. Last night’s run really heralded in the start of the spring and the promise of summer to me. It was light and a bit of blue sky and real sunshine even made an appearance through the trees, a welcome sight after a day of monochrome greyness. The final stretch of that run route takes me through a farm, and I had to laugh out loud to myself as I picked my way through the muddy farmyard, under the watch of the sheep. They were just so funny, lying around on the ground just looking at me. I could not figure out if there expressions were the blank stare of a not too bright animal, or wary curiosity, or indignantion at my trespassing through their mud. Whatever it was I had to laugh.
So today’s post is not about a lamb as you may think from my opening sheepy statement, but it is about a lovely Butternut and Goats Cheese Salad that I made last week while on my low-carb pre half marathon eating regime. It was a super tasty and a bit of a final hurrah to the winter squash. Although I do love my butternut so I am sure I’ll still get hold of the odd one here and there in the summer. But its the principle of bye-bye winter, hello spring. When roasted butternut is sweet, yet savoury, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, and with the paprika and cumin it gets a lovely crisp, spicy outside.
This is a fairly simple dish and easy to make in an evening when you’re home late and don’t have large amounts of energy for anything extravagant. The most energy you need for this is to cut up the butternut, after that, its plain sailing. And I guarantee that the colours and flavours of this dish will make it worth that tiny bit of elbow grease.
Like any salad it is completely versatile so feel free to throw anything extra in that you fancy. Sun blush tomatoes, baby new potatoes, pine nuts, etc etc. Thats the beauty of a salad. That and the fact that because its called a salad you feel completely virtuous piling it high with loads of goats cheese. Cheese. Awesome 🙂
Butternut Goats Cheese Salad
Adapted From Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6 as an starter/side, 3 as a main
1 tin puy lentils, drained and rinsed
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (from about a 2-pound squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked (sweet or hot, whichever you prefer) paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups rocket
1 cup soft crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss butternut cubes with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until well browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Cool.
Combine lentils, butternut, any oil you can scrape from the baking tin with rocket, half the goats cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper, and extra vinegar if desired. Divide among plates and sprinkle with remaining goat cheese to sprinkle.