Chock full of cherries and toasted walnuts, this colorful lentil dish strikes a delicious balance between salad and comfort food—in other words, bid goodbye to the days of sad, barely dressed greens. Earthy Beluga lentils (so-called for their resemblance to caviar) make up the base of this seriously satisfying dinner (or lunch!). The lentils are cooked then tossed with cucumber, cherries, walnuts, spicy Thai chile, and baby lettuce. Flavored with lemon and red wine vinaigrette and topped with slices of squash, this warm lentil salad is a dinner you’ll make again—and again.
When slicing spicy chiles, avoid touching the inside, and immediately wash your hands afterward. Feel free to add less or omit it if you don’t love heat. Nuts can burn quickly, so make sure to keep an eye on them as they toast.
¾ cup Beluga lentils
8 ounces vegetable stock
½ English cucumber
2 summer squashes
⅛ ounce dill
⅛ ounce parsley
1 Thai chile
1 ounce walnuts
5 ounces baby lettuces
3 tablespoons dried cherries
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1¼ cups water
10″ large pot
12″ large nonstick pan
Bring lentils, vegetable stock, and 1¼ cups water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. When boiling, lower heat to medium and simmer until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
While lentils cook, rinse all produce. Cut cucumber into ¼-inch dice. Trim and discard scallion roots and thinly slice. Cut squash into ¼-inch slices lengthwise. Halve lemon. Pick dill and parsley leaves, discarding stems, and roughly chop. Halve Thai chile lengthwise and, using a knife tip, discard seeds. Finely chop as much as desired (see Recipe Tip).
Place walnuts in a large nonstick pan over medium heat and cook, tossing frequently, until deep golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes (see Recipe Tip). Remove from pan and roughly chop.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan from walnuts over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add squash in an even layer and cook until softened and slightly browned, about 3 minutes per side, working in batches if needed. Remove pan from heat and season squash with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.
Stir lettuce, dried cherries, cucumber, dill, parsley, Thai chile, and walnuts into cooked lentils until fully combined. Stir in juice of 1 lemon, red wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to combine and season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.
Divide lentil salad between 2 bowls. Top with squash and garnish with scallions. Grab a fork and go to town.