Salad season is not over. It’s never over, it just changes, like the seasons. In the summer we all crave crisp, chilled, crunchy salads. In the fall and winter, a warm and cozy salad is more like it, like this warm lentil, quinoa, and roasted acorn squash salad.
This delicious stunner was inspired by a salad that I ordered at Restoration Hardware Chicago’s restaurant, 3 Arts Club Café. They don’t actually call it a salad as it’s under the, “vegetable” portion of their menu, but when it came to the table I definitely thought that it looked like a salad. A lovely, tasty, satisfying salad. It was as beautiful as the restaurant itself. If you get the chance to go, you absolutely should. It’s on the first floor of the store, which doesn’t feel like a store at all. It feels like a luxurious home, filled with gorgeous rooms, filled with chic furniture and exquisite art. Each floor is a feast for the eyes and your home decorating imagination. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that you can buy a glass of wine and take it with you while you wander through the multiple floors of magnificent. Take a look, because I can’t do this place justice with my words. Click here to check it out.
So I made this warm roasted butternut squash salad with quinoa and lentils many months after I ordered that unforgettable salad. It has been my intention ever since I took the first bite to replicate it and share it with you, but life, and the change of seasons got in the way. It wasn’t until last week that I felt like this would be the perfect time to make it. I’m happy I waited because I had to dig deep into my memory to remember the flavors of the dressing, unfortunately, I could only remember the mint. There was a subtle taste of mint in that salad dressing that made it come to life. But other than the mint, I couldn’t recall the other herbs that the chef had used. It turned out that this time, my memory fail wasn't a bad thing, because it forced me to play around with the fresh herbs that are still growing in my garden, and I’m really happy with what I came up with, and I think that you will be too.
There is so much texture in this quinoa and lentil salad, and that’s one of the things that makes it so good. The lentils are a bit chewy, the quinoa is fluffy, the pistachios are crunchy, the dried tart cherries are chewier than the lentils, and the roasted acorn squash is almost creamy. The flavors are just as exciting! You’ll get savory, sweet, earthy, and tangy. Every ingredient in this warm salad compliments the others and it will satisfy whatever craving you may be having. Balance perfected.
This roasted squash salad has so much going for it in the way of taste and texture, but it also has something else that’s so important to me and my readers. It’s really healthy! It’s packed full of protein, and complex carbohydrates, and antioxidants, and vitamins. How could it not be? I mean, hello quinoa! Hi there lentils! Oh, hey pistachios! What’s up, acorn squash? How you doing, spinach? This is one big dish of SUPERFOODS! A few bites of this warm and cozy lentil and quinoa salad is going to make you feel like a big and strong monster! Hyperbole? Maybe a little. But seriously folks, it’s hard to find something that tastes this good and is this good for you.
Oh right, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a little shout-out to the sage and mint dressing. SO GOOD! Fresh sage, meets maple syrup, orange juice, white wine vinegar, and a pinch of fresh mint. Ooh la la! The sage and maple syrup sings autumn, and the wee bit of mint adds a wonderful twist to the combination. It’s not the same as the one that was on the salad I had at 3 Arts Club Café, because I couldn’t remember all of the ingredients in that one; however, I’m impressed with how all of these lovelies came together, so I’m not fretting it.
Try my warm acorn squash, lentil, and quinoa salad with sage dressing, then come back and tell me how you liked it. And if you get the chance, try 3 Arts Club Café’s salad for comparison and shop the Restoration Hardware store. Make sure to get a glass of wine to take with you while you drool over the amazing rooms.
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