Salad with French Green Lentils, Quinoa, Arugula and Roasted Butternut Squash

by Mary on February 15, 2014

dinner salad with quinoa, lentil, arugula, and roasted butternut squash

arugula quinoa salad with roasted butternut squash

This might be the perfect winter salad, with hearty, nutty red quinoa, sweet roasted butternut squash, tangy arugula with lemon vinaigrette, and crunchy almonds.

Roasted butternut squash in salads is a definite trend. I’ve tried it at home a number of times but only rarely been happy with the results. This time, though, I think I nailed it, and my husband and son both enthused at the table. The secret, I found, is to dice a raw butternut squash into very small cubes, mix it with olive oil, and then roast it.

I deduced this secret after having  the house salad at Green Spoon Restaurant in Walla Walla, which features roasted butternut squash along with mixed greens and toasted pumpkin seeds. The squash was so sweet and I loved the way it was presented, in a ring around the plate underneath the greens. I copied that for this salad and everyone thought it looked very pretty.

My other inspiration came from a dinner my husband and I had at Purple Restaurant where a young friend of ours worked. We had their quinoa arugula salad, which features lentils de Puy and toasted almonds. Lentils de Puy are grown in volcanic soil near de Puy, France, and I’ve never seen them locally.  I used French green lentils instead of lentils de Puy; apparently they are the same variety but grown in other areas. Some people claim the two kinds are equivalent in cooking, but David Lebovitz dumps on French green lentils here. Lentils de Puy don’t become mushy when cooked, while my French green lentils did. Nonetheless we all loved the meal and have had it twice.

French green lentils and caviar black lentils remain as distinct individual beans when you cook them until they are just done, about 20 minutes, and I’ve tried them both in this recipe. Something like a red lentil or brown lentil would just turn into mush and wouldn’t be good here.

My son asked whether roasting the squash whole and then cubing it would work. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t. The large surface area of the small dice makes for lots of caramelization and helps the squash lose enough volume in the oven to really concentrate its sweet flavor. Also squash cooked whole doesn’t subsequently cube well, it kind of mushes.

Parmesan is an optional topping: if you prefer a vegan salad you can leave it off.


5.0 from 3 reviews
Salad with French Green Lentils, Quinoa, Arugula and Roasted Butternut Squash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • 1 large butternut squash, 3-4#
  • ½ tsp. salt for the squash, plus salt to season lentils and quinoa
  • 1 cup French green lentils or black caviar lentils
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided (2 Tbsp for the lentils/quinoa, 1 Tbsp. for roasting the butternut squash, 1 Tbsp. for the arugula)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 1.5 oz)
  • about 4 Tbsp. lemon juice, divided (from 1.5 lemons)
  • 6 oz fresh, washed arugula
  • ⅓ cup almonds
  • a small amount of parmesan, grated (optional- leave it out to make it vegan)
To roast the squash:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Microwave the squash for 5-10 minutes to soften. If it is too big to fit in the microwave, cut it in half the short way first, carefully and using a cutting board and a sharp knife, then microwave each half separately.
  3. Cut softened squash in half, peel, cut into small cubes. This is the most time-consuming part of this recipe and takes about half an hour.
  4. In a bowl, mix squash cubes with olive oil and salt.
  5. Spread the squash cubes on one or two baking dishes.
  6. Roast for 30-40 minutes until soft.
For the quinoa, lentils, and arugula.
  1. Cook the lentils in ample water on the stove with salt, bay leaf, and marjoram or another green herb. Cook only until just cooked, about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain lentils.
  3. Cook quinoa with water in a rice cooker according to rice cooker directions, or on the stove for about 20 minutes.
  4. Combine quinoa and lentils. Add pepper and salt to taste.
  5. Mince shallot and add to quinoa/lentil mixture.
  6. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to mixture.
  7. Add 2 Tbsp. lemon juice.
  8. Dress the arugula with additional lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
For the almond and parmesan toppings:
  1. While the quinoa and lentils are cooking, pan-toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when they are aromatic and starting to brown.
  2. Cool almonds and chop into slivers.
To assemble the salad:
  1. On dinner plates, arrange the butternut squash cubes around the outside of the plate.
  2. Mound the arugula in the center of the plate.
  3. Scoop quinoa/lentil mixture into a mound on top of the arugula (remember there will be leftovers, just add as much as you would like for each serving).
  4. Sprinkle toasted slivered almonds on top of the quinoa/lentil mixture.
  5. Grate parmesan over the top of the salad if desired.

This recipe is my contribution to The Salad Bar Monthly Blogging Group’s collection of healthy salads with grains. Check out what everyone else made in the links below!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne February 20, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Wow! What a terrific recipe. Printing and marking my grocery list!
Joanne recently posted..Stand Up And Work: VariDeskMy Profile


mary February 21, 2014 at 6:45 am

Thanks so much Joanne! I hope you will enjoy it!
mary recently posted..Salad with French Green Lentils, Quinoa, Arugula and Roasted Butternut SquashMy Profile


sippitysup February 22, 2014 at 12:36 am

This is my kind of weeknight cooking. Healthy flavorful. Easy clean up! GREG


mary February 22, 2014 at 1:49 am

Thank you Greg!


Lori February 24, 2014 at 2:56 am

Another winner to add to my lunch rotation! 🙂
Lori recently posted..FinallyMy Profile


mary February 24, 2014 at 6:16 am

Thanks, Lori, I hope you will enjoy it!


Ja February 26, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Hubby will definitely like this! 🙂 Will be doing this on the weekend. 🙂
I love the colors !:)
Ja recently posted..20 Weeks! Halfway There!My Profile


Tina March 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Such a pretty and healthy dish! Makes sense about the roasting. I often mix my lentils and sweet potatoes in a dish.


mary March 3, 2014 at 12:37 am

Thanks Tina! Lentils and sweet potatoes or squash are a good combination, aren’t they.
mary recently posted..One week to Sectionals!My Profile


Brittany March 3, 2014 at 2:13 am

This looks DELICIOUS!! I would swap the Parmesan for some nutritional yeast!! YUM!


Heba March 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm

This looks fantastic! I am a fan of anything with butternut squash and can’t wait to try this combination. I’ll get some French green lentils this week.
Heba recently posted..Grain-Free Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Whipped CreamMy Profile


mary March 4, 2014 at 8:11 am

Cool, I hope you will enjoy the recipe!


The Wimpy Vegetarian March 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

What a perfect winter salad! And I have most of these ingredients on hand. Lunch tomorrow, I’m thinking. Thanks for posting this!!
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Gena March 12, 2014 at 5:06 am

Yum, yum, yum! I loved the mix of sweet, sour, savory, delicate, crunchy, chewy. It is a lovely recipe. Filling, yet light. And so easy to make. I left out the shallots because my digestive system cannot tolerate them. And, I used a dash of coconut aminos in the dressing for additional flavor depth. Yum, yum, yum! Thanks, Mary.


mary March 12, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Thanks so much for commenting, Gena! I love knowing that you are still reading and still using my recipes! And I will keep your non-dairy needs in mind. I have put shaved parmesan in a couple of my salad recipes recently, I do like that, but there are certainly alternatives, from chopped almonds to pumpkin seeds to nutri-yeast (haven’t tried that on a salad yet but a reader suggested it) to hard-boiled egg slices.


Gena March 12, 2014 at 5:07 am

Oh, I also left off the parm / cheese. No dairy for me!


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