Every once in a while, there is nothing like a big leafy green salad. Kale is usually my go-to green (original, I know) but it is a nutrient-dense crucifer and also tastes good on day two and three, it’s hard to argue with that. But every once in a while I need something juicier.
I always forget about spinach (the kale of the 90’s). It is also a dark, leafy green (big nutrients), it still tastes good after an overnight fridge-wilt (because we commonly eat it cooked too, unlike most lettuces), and it tastes relatively mild. I’m not talking about boxes of pre-washed by a stranger baby spinach, I’m talking about full-grown heads of spinach that you have to chop and clean yourself. It’s so worth it, trust me, it’s far juicier and more flavourful. Save the boxed spinach for recipes like our Spinach and Artichoke Dip, or a convenient smoothie boost.
Also, don’t throw those spinach stems out! I grew up doing that (why!?) and if you have yet to see the spinach stem light, try chopping them up (perhaps a bit more finely) and adding them to the salad, or juice them or add them to your smoothie. They’re still spinach, and just like beet tops and parsley stems, they’re basically free food.
I love the contrast of fresh and grassy greens with the dull sweetness of starchy veggies (as demonstrated in this Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin), and in the winter months I love a little temperature contrast in my salad. Cold spinach salad after a rainy walk home from work that blew your umbrella inside out three times? No chance. Hot, roasted Squash with warm lentils tossed in a nutty tahini dressing, and I’m pretty sure there was some raw spinach too? Yes please.
I cut a pretty big butternut squash into 8 pieces lengthwise. A good ‘veg-slicer’, a santoku-style knife (the blade us rectangular and blunt on the end with a thin spine), is very helpful in cutting big squashes, melons and root veg safely. I didn’t peel it or even seed it, and not just out of laziness (although the fact that being lazy means being more nutritious in this case, deserves a moment of celebration). The peels of many veggies (and some fruits) are full of nutrients and worth leaving on (except when they aren’t organic or if we’re talking about fruits like pineapple).
Squash/pumpkin seeds are full of zinc (immune-boosting), vitamin A, protein, iron, calcium and one of the few plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acid (our body loooooves this and needs it in our diet because it doesn’t make it on its own). Have you been scooping these into the compost too? Free food, you guys! I know they’re surrounded by pumpkin ‘guts’, but after the squash has roasted in the oven, the slimy part dries up and it just tastes like part of the squash.
The lentils turn this into a solid meal that will keep you going and going. You can replace them with any legume, but as my sister said the other day, lentils are the easy ones. They totally are! Huge amounts of fiber, protein and iron, a shorter soaking time than their bigger cousins and literally only about 6-8 minutes of cooking.
You could eat this for 3-4 days, or do what I did and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, breakfast again and then purée whatever is leftover with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, into a dip. Have you ever dipped your veggies into salad? It’s definitely more fun than it sounds.
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1 Butternut Squash (or your fave squash), cut into 6-8 wedges, lengthwise
- ½ c Lentils (we used Beluga, but puy, green or any un-split lentils will do), soaked for 6 + hours, drained, rinsed and cooked with kombu
- ½ c Red onion, sliced very thin
- 2 Heads of fresh Spinach, chopped and washed
- 1-2 c Parsley, roughly chopped
- ⅓ c Tahini
- 1-2 Garlic Cloves
- 4 Tbsp Lemon juice (and zest)
- ½ c Water
- ¼ tsp Turmeric (1/2 tsp if using fresh)
- ¼ tsp Smoked Paprika
- ½ c Sundried Tomatoes (unsulphured and preferable dry, not soaked in oil), soaked in water until hydrated (1-3 hours) and diced.
- Several grinds of Black Pepper (to enhance turmeric absorption)
- Sea(weed) Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350* F
- Toss the cut squash in melted coconut oil and sprinkle with sea(weed) salt and pepper.
- Lay out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 45-60 minutes, until it is cooked through.
- Toss the cooked lentils with the dressing.
- Lay the clean spinach out on a platter, top with the saucy lentils, red onions, warm squash and fresh parsley. (you may have a hard time spotting the red onion in the picture because I forgot them, but they were there in spirit...)
- Whisk everything together in a bowl until well combined. Add some water if it is too thick.