If you saw my post from last week, thanks for sticking with me through my ranting and raving. I’m passionate about real food, and feel like screaming it from the roof tops. This week I’m back with a delicious fall recipe that just might wind up on your holiday table.
It’s easy to find inspiration from food this time of year. For this post, I didn’t have to look further than my favorite Italian restaurant here in Rumson, NJ… UNDICI.
My husband spent his childhood summers in Italy with family and after we started dating, we traveled often throughout northern Italy, experiencing the magnificent cuisine that is hard to find in America. I can tell you with certainty that Undici is an Italian restaurant that truly captivates the essence of real Italian cooking. Once inside, you feel like you’ve been transported to a Tuscan farmhouse. Every dish emanates Vic Rallo’s philosophy of “la materia prima,” or the “finest quality ingredients”. Italian cuisine is far more than tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Italians pride themselves in using fresh food from local markets, especially fruits and vegetables.
I was so inspired by the butternut squash salad I recently had as my appetizer at Undici. It was my first butternut squash of the season and it was good! I wanted to try and recreate these spectacular autumn flavors for you to experience at home! But, I added in my own little twist…lentils!! I’m so excited to finally be able to add a lentil recipe to this blog. Lentils are packed with protein, minerals and fiber and are the perfect compliment to many vegetable and meat dishes. For this recipe I used french lentils. I find them to be slightly more earthy and tasty, take less time to cook and they hold their shape better than regular lentils. Did I mention the spices yet?! I use coriander, cumin and some freshly ground tumeric (which has incredible anti-inflammatory properties,) but you can certainly use the dry powdered form if you can’t find fresh. They really add extra warmth and flavor to this dish. If you need help preparing or peeling your butternut squash for cooking, check out this video.
Enjoy small portions of the salad as an appetizer or make it a hearty meal your entire family will love.
- 1 butternut squash peeled (discard stem and round bottom of squash- use center part and slice into 1 & ¼ inch rounds)
- 1 apple (chopped)
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 cup french lentils
- 5 cups water
- 1 bunch endive leaves (roughly chopped)
- 1 & ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp tumeric
- kosher salt
- handful fresh parsley (chopped)
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Place butternut squash rounds on baking sheet and lightly brush with oil on both sides.
- Bake for about 30 min (flip halfway through) until lightly golden brown but not mushy.
- Bring water to a boil then add lentils, onion, bay leaf, spices and a generous pinch of tsp salt. Simmer until tender but not falling apart (about 25 min).
- Drain any remaining water from the lentils.
- Transfer lentils to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
- Add apples, endive, apple cider vinegar and olive oil and chopped parsley to the bowl and gently combine.
- Arrange butternut squash round on a plate and top with lentil salad.
- Lightly salt and pepper to taste if needed.