This salad has evolved from a number of delicious eats in my household. In recent years, I have discovered the incredible delicata squash, thanks to my friend Reem. I have been eagerly telling everyone about it since, and I have yet to find a person disappointed by this autumnal harvest wonder squash. It is the perfect fall squash and it is only available seasonally. So stock up everyone! The crispy edible skin and the creamy sweet squash make the perfect side dish. The best thing about this squash? You don’t need to peel it, and it is full of nutrients. It is high in vitamins C and A, potassium and fiber, and even provides calcium and iron!
I often serve it up as a snack for my family simply roasted crispy with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. In this salad, I use it to top a savory mixture of lentils on a bed of spinach along with some caramelized onions, garlic and cilantro, and juicy gems of pomegranate seeds. The topping is a fusion of flavors from the classic Egyptian Kushary, which is a lentil and pasta comfort food topped with caramelized onions and garlic in a vinegar sauce. The fried garlic and cilantro layered with pomegranate seeds is a delicious flavor fusion from a tasty Syrian dish that I LOVE, also made with lentils and pasta cooked in a savory pomegranate sauce called Haraa Asbaoo.
This salad is a colorful and festive dish I love to serve in large parties and it has always been a crowd pleaser. It is easy to make in large quantities and it plates beautifully. I hope you all enjoy it with your loved ones soon!
Delicata Squash Lentil Salad
- 2 delicata squash
- 1 red onion
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1/2 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate kernels
- 4 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped finely
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 cups fresh green spinach
- Rinse the lentils and place in a pot with enough water to cover them completely, with no more than a cm of water above the lentils. For best results, check my post on cooking the perfect lentils.
- Stir in 1 tsp of cumin. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low until all the water evaporates. As the lentils cook, begin washing and prepping the squash as outlined below in step 4.
- Once all the water has evaporated and lentils are tender, stir in some salt gently with a fork. Remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool completely before adding to the salad.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). Thoroughly wash the squash and slice in half lengthwise. Cut off the bottom and cut off the top and scoop out all seeds. You may save the seeds to roast and eat later.
- Slice the length of the squash into half circles about 1.5 inches thick.
- Arrange the squash slices on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle half the oil, some salt, pepper to taste, and 1 tsp of cinnamon on the squash. Add the slices of red onion to the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the squash gains a golden color and some caramelization. Be careful not to scorch the onions. You may need to remove the onions earlier.
- In a small pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of oil and the crushed garlic. Stir frequently until fried golden, careful not to scorch it.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro to the garlic and toss until the cilantro wilts. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the dressing:
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of oil, the pomegranate molasses, lime juice, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp of cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste.
Assembling the salad
- Layer the baby spinach onto a large platter.
- Layer the lentils on top of the spinach and drizzle on the dressing. Toss gently until all lentils and spinach are coated.
- Sprinkle the fried garlic and cilantro mixture ontop of the lentils, evenly distributed.
- Sprinkle the pomegranate on top, laying it into a circular design or diagonal lines if you like.
- Arrange the roasted squash and onions on top and serve.