Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese: The way we communicate

When you’ve been good friends with someone for a while, your communication changes.

You stop bothering with the pleasantries – the “Hello, how are you’s?” and the “What’s new with you’s?”

Because you already know she’s busy with grad school and the 5K race she's planning for her fellowship program to help prevent teen suicide (sign up here!), and she already knows that you’ve been blogging, writing features for TasteSpotting and spending too much money at Bar Covell. If something is new, you tell each other immediately – send a text or G-Chat message or just pick up the phone and start right into the conversation without so much as a breath.

After 8 years of friendship, Ashley and I have reached a stage in our relationship where we are more like sisters than we are friends. She’s one of the few people who will call me out when I’m being irrational or handling a situation inappropriately. She’s also one of the few people who I can have an entire conversation with based on the exchange of links.

She’ll send me a link to a new pair of boots she’s dying to order, I’ll respond with a link to a dress I need from Anthropologie, and then we both go back to whatever it is we are supposed to be doing.

Until we find another piece of jewelry or bag or sweater that we have to have.

Because both of us love to cook hearty vegetarian meals, we also communicate with recipe links – most recently with the link to Smitten Kitchen’s Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese that we had both already independently found and decided to make. I whipped up the cuddly sweet and savory salad on Saturday night, she made it on Sunday night using cayenne for an added punch of flavor, and then we exchanged notes on Monday morning.

Our general consensus?

Love, love, love it.

We also love this dress, but think it’s way too expensive for our humble lentils and squash budgets.

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 3 as a main course

3/4 cup green lentils
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash or sugar pumpkin (1-inch cubes) (from about a 2-pound squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups baby arugula
3 large shallots, sliced into thin rings
½ cup soft crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus additional to taste
¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash or pumpkin cubes with 1 tablespoon oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces, stir in the shallots, and the roast both for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, soak lentils for 10 minutes in a small bowl, then drain. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Rinse with water and let drain.

Heat large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and add the lentils, squash, shallots, arugula, and the sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and extra vinegar, if desired. Cook together until just heated through, then divide among plates to serve. Sprinkle with goat cheese and pine nuts.

Ashley’s suggestion: Add cayenne pepper when roasting the squash for added flavor.

My suggestion: Serve with quinoa.


bagnatic said...

awww i love old friendships like that. all my favorite ingredients are in this dish!

Ashley said...

My only question is this: What are we eating this weekend?

Esi said...

Adding to my ever long list (though I think it may already be starred in Google reader) Hope I can get to do it this season.

Monet said...

I love hearing about your sweet friendship with Ashley...and I loved seeing this delicious plate of food. Aren't lentils and goat cheese amazing together? Thank you for sharing...I hope your Friday is delightful!

Peggy said...

I love and cherish those types of friendships! This meal sounds absolutely wonderful also!

Quay Po Cooks said...

You so so blessed have a good friend who will let you be you:D This dish sounds really good.

Cake Duchess said...

I never had lentils with goat cheese. This sounds amazing. I could eat lentils every day. Happy I came across your blog:)

Anna A. said...

Oh baby I am so loving this recipe (heard you mention it on twitter) and so funny about you and Ash - of I can so see that! I am also the same breed of those that come with now biological sister so I totally feel ya. Now time to whip up this squash n lentils!

Gastronomer said...

Yep! This totally needs to be made ASAP!

Diana said...

Amy - Hah, just like the song - those friends are like gold! :)

Ashley - You have mail.

Esi - Hope you can get to it? Not acceptable! You will get to it!

Monet - Lentils and goat cheese are the best! A restaurant out here makes an amazing crispy goat cheese and lentil appetizer that I've been meaning to recreate at home. Will need to do that soon!

Peggy - Thanks!

Quay Po - I really am - she's truly a blessing in my life. :)

Cake Duchess - Lentils and goat cheese are amazing together - one of my favorite combos - you must try! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Anna - It's definitely a TALF recipe - let me know how you like it!

Cathy - Do it!