I am so happy I managed to grow this beauty in the garden without the slugs and snails getting to it first. In the end it took over a little as it trailed across the lawn but I ended up with this lovely looking butternut squash. It’s always good to grow the foods you love eating and I sure am a big fan of butternut squash! I love it roasted, in stews and curries or in soups. Squashes are also high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties, while its bright orange colour means it is high in carotenoids which are converted to vitamin A by our body. Vitamin A is essential for eye health but also for the health of our skin, hair and nails.  In this recipe I paired up the beautiful butternut squash with puy lentils, red onion and fresh parsley to make a delicious warm winter salad.LentilButternutSalad-6

Lentils are a fantastic food, in particular for those on plant based diets, as they provide you with a great source of protein needed for the maintenance and repair of your entire body.  They are also a great source of phytoestrogens excellent for hormone balancing, as well as being rich in folate and iron essential for healthy blood, zinc for our immune system, vitamin B5 and vitamin B6 for a healthy nervous system. The high fibre content of lentils means they are excellent in reducing cholesterol levels and helping in the prevention of heart disease as well as balancing blood sugar levels by providing a slow release of energy.


LentilButternutSalad-1

Warm Lentil & Butternut Squash Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked puy lentils
2/3 to 1/2 butternut squash depending on size
1 tbsp coconut butter
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 red onion finely sliced
bunch of fresh parsley – chopped
juice 0f 1/2 lemon
sea salt to taste

LentilButternutSalad

Instructions:

Start by placing the lentils in a pan and covering with water to soak for 2-3 hours before you start cooking. This reduces cooking time as well as reducing the phytate levels which may cause bloating {the fennel seeds also help reduce the boating}

Peel and slice the butternut squash and place in a baking tray with the coconut oil and a pinch of salt then place in a preheated oven and bake at gas mark 5 {170°C} for 20 min until soft and golden. While the butternut squash is in the oven, drain the water off the lentils, rinse again, place back in the pan and cover with water. Add the cumin and fennel seeds, bring to the boil and cook until the lentils are tender {appox 20 min}. You may need to top up the water, in which case add hot water from the kettle.

Once the butternut squash is ready take it out of the oven and let it sit on the side until the lentils are cooked. Remove the cooked lentils from the pan and place in a large bowl. Mix in the sliced red onion, chopped parsley, lemon juice and salt to taste. Finally add the baked slices of butternut squash and serve. Makes a lovely lunch for 2-3 or side dish for dinner for 4-6. LentilButternutSalad-2 LentilButternutSalad-3 LentilButternutSalad-5LentilButternutSalad-4

ENJOY!!