Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween/Lentil and Parsnip Salad

This was the first year in as long as I can remember that I had a blast dressing up for Halloween . In the past I have felt awkward and shy about it, always worrying that my costume was 'stupid' or that people were going to think badly of me, but this year I went all out. Surprisingly, I don't regret brushing out my curls and dousing them with baby powder for my 'Grandmother Clock' costume, even though several people pulled my hair to find out if I was wearing a wig or not. And, if I may say so myself I made a pretty cute Aunt Jemima. As it turns out, dressing up is a lot of fun. I could get used to the whole dressing up thing, but I still find it totally bizarre that at the actual Halloween parties, everyone behaves exactly the same as they would on any other night out, except they’re in costume. Let me tell you, seeing Batman dancing with a Teletubby is a weird sight no matter how festive you're feeling.

The funny thing is, I didn't even celebrate on the actually day of Halloween. Needless to say, after two nights of pre-Halloween parties and costumes, by the 31st, all I wanted was a good break. Actually, what I really needed was a good break with good food and good conversation. As usual, I provided the food and my friend provided the conversation; thanks to this salad it turned out to be a pretty fair trade. On Saturday, during my daily food blog browsing, I came across a spiced pumpkin, lentil and goat cheese salad on The Bitten Word. It inspired me to make this roasted parsnip and lentil salad, and although I was a little weary that a salad would be a disappointing dinner, it turned out to be ideally comforting and hearty.

Warm salads are great, something about the gently wilted lettuce and oozy cheese makes it feel like a more complete meal than your average cold salad. I adapted this recipe based on what I had in my fridge, parsnips (my new favorite addiction) instead of pumpkin and spinach instead of arugula. The just warm spinach topped with spicy roasted parsnips, smoky cumin-spiked lentils and some creamy goat cheese was full of flavor and very satisfying. All the components balanced each other out and worked together to make what could have been a boring salad a perfect Halloween dinner. Trick or treating could have been fun, but this dinner (and the conversation, of course) definitely made up for the pillowcases full of candy I missed out on.

Roasted Parsnip and Lentil Salad
adapted from The Bitten Word (who got it from Bon Appetit)
Serves 4

For lentils:
1 cup French green lentils
2 carrots, minced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups of water
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. salt
For parsnips:
4 large parsnips in 1/2” cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbsp. spicy pepper flakes.
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For salad:
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled

1)Prepare the lentils: heat up the olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add the carrots and garlic, sautee until the garlic is barely colored, about 2 minutes. Rinse the lentils and add them to the pot. Add the water, cumin and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered for 30-40 minutes, until they are tender.
2)Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the parsnips cubes on a parchment lines baking sheet. Sprinkle with pepper flakes and salt and drizzle with the olive oil, stir it around with a wooden spoon to make sure they are well covered. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, the parsnips should be golden and have some crunchy bits.
3)For the salad, lay about 1/2 cup of spinach in the bottom of a soup plate; divide the lentils, parsnips, and goat cheese evenly between the plates. Serve warm.


pdc said...

so I know they are not food pictures and we want to see the pictures of Grandma and Aunt Jemima
dinner at la Latteria in Milano, Italy, a delicious brown rice with a pumpkin/butternut squash puree on top
worth a try

Amy said...

Hi Frenchie - thanks for stopping over!

Grandmother Clock, huh? How completely original and awesome. I have a 3 1/2 year old, so we've been celebrating Halloween for a week. I love it, but was pretty ready for it to be over. Of course the Snickers and Twix bars will keep it going strong for another week.

I would love this salad. I'm a huge fan of lentils and goat cheese. Husband and kids, not so much on the goat cheese, so I would need to alter their portions. Maybe feta?

Frenchie said...

Amy-I think feta would be a great choice for this, even some aged cheddar or swiss gruyere. They wouldn't melt int he same way, but I think they would add great flavor. Enjoy!

Kari said...

Really nice to see a recipe using parsnips. I love them, but hardly ever see any recipes using them. And I love lentils, too:) Looks, great!

Susan said...

Looks fabulous - and so healthy, too. As Kari said, there aren't enough recipes with parsnips in them.
And your Grandmother Clock costume is too cool. Any photos?