Our ability to distinguish different flavours is as complex as it is exciting. The elements of taste perception – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami, and spice along with texture and mouthfeel – are what makes eating different foods pleasurable, neutral, or downright nasty!
I love when several taste elements are incorporated into a single dish, particularly sweet and savory. The evolution of global cuisine has paved the way for different tastes and textures to shine together at once – there are really no hard and fast rules about how to put ingredients together.
My lentil and pumpkin salad is packed with deliciousness and is a great example of how sweet and sour compliment each other in savoury cooking. I use different varieties of pumpkins or winter squash depending on what’s available (do not use the typical Jack O Lantern, it is very stringy). Cinderella pumpkins or Butternut Squash will give you consistently good results. Get the best maple syrup you can find for the vinaigrette. Canadian maple syrup is probably one of the tastiest out there, but then again, I’m totally biased!
Served slightly warm or at room temperature, this salad is great eaten on it’s own. It also works beautifully as an accompaniment to grilled chicken, fish, or meat.
Lentil and Pumpkin Salad with Maple vinaigrette:
- One cup of brown or French lentils, picked over to remove any debris
- 3 cups of water
- 600 grams butternut squash or pumpkin, seeds removed, peeled and cut cross-wise into ¾ inch slices
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced or finely chopped
- 2 spring onions, white and green parts, sliced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F)
In a pot large enough to allow the lentils to expand, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils, cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender. Let cool slightly.
Toss pumpkin slices with honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they start to brown. Flip over and roast until cooked through and slightly brown on the exterior, 10-15 more minutes. Remove from the oven. Cut into cubes when cool enough to handle.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil and maple syrup. Stir in the lemon juice.
Toss the lentils with the vinaigrette, parsley, red onion, and spring onions. Season with salt and pepper.
Give it a taste, add more seasoning if necessary. Add the cubed pumpkin and toss.
Savour the flavours and enjoy every bite!
Copyright © 2016 Lidija’s Kitchen, including personal images taken by the author.