It is Autumn. A cozy season without the stress of Christmas, which is why I like it. I am Scandinavian, so anything that serves as an excuse to light candles is good to me per definition. The only downside to Autumn, apart from the cold, is the inability to deal with the rain in the UK. Everything grinds to a halt. Trains suddenly cannot depart, and you are stuck. Often on a train that no longer moves, on a freezing cold and over-crowded replacement bus, or simply on the platform. This Autumnal salad can be eaten in any of such places, but it is best enjoyed warm at home.
1 mug of puy lentils
veal, chicken or vegetable stock (enough to cover the lentils by 2-3 cm)
1/2 butternut squash
100 grams of spinach
a good chunk of feta
a handful of olives
100g chicken breast (optional)
a handful of toasted almonds (if not using chicken)
olive oil, lemon juice
cumin and coriander seeds, chili flakes, salt, pepper
Set the oven to 200C (fan).
Peel the butternut squash with a potato peeler, then cube into pieces of roughly 2×2 cm. Coat lightly in olive oil, sprinkle over dried chili flakes, and gently crushed cumin and coriander seeds. Give a good grind of salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Roast for some 25 minutes.
Dice the chicken into pieces of 2×2 cm. Add to the butternut squash and mix well. Roast for a further 20 minutes approximately, but turning the oven down to 175 C. You want the butternut squash to be slightly charred around the edges.
Gently simmer the lentils in the stock for 40 minutes or so. Until tender, in other words, not mushy. Drain and set aside.
Finely chop the shallot, and mix with the lentils. Add the olives, and crumble in the feta. Then, shred the spinach roughly (or do not shred at all), and combine with the slightly cooled lentils. Finally, add the roast butternut squash and chicken. Give a good stir, and check the seasoning. If you are Italian, drizzle over a little olive oil.