This salad gets a whole bunch of flavor from a short list of ingredients. The deep flavors come from quick-roasted butternut squash and cherry tomatoes (and the lentils of course) and the bright flavors comes from lime juice and orange juice (inspired by a Caribbean mojo, these two along with garlic make up the entire dressing). Fresh corn adds sweetness and crunch and bridges summer and fall.

You’ll want to use the small green French Du Puy lentils or small black Beluga lentils for this salad – not the large brown lentils. The small lentils hold their shape much better in a salad and add a pleasing texture. (And don't make the mistake of using red lentils in a salad — they completely lose their texture when cooked and are best in soup and dals.)

Susie Middleton

To cook the lentils: Bring six cups of water to a boil, add a cup of lentils (pick them over first if you like to look for small stones) , reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender. Taste one or two after 15 minutes – they usually reach the perfect texture in about 18 minutes. You can cook the lentils while the squash and tomatoes are in the oven. Drain them and spread them on a sheet pan to cool slightly and mix with everything else while still warm. (You will have a bit more than this recipe calls for.) You can also cook the lentils ahead and store in the fridge, but bring them to room temp for making the salad. The salad is best slightly warm or at room temp.

This recipe, which originally appeared in my cookbook Simple Green Suppers, makes a light supper for a vegetarian or a great lunch for anyone to take to work (or eat at home!).

Serves 3 to 4

  • 8 to 9 ounces ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half through the stem
  • 10 to 12 ounces peeled, diced butternut squash (cut in ½-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups cooked lentils (see cooking directions above)
  • 1/3 to ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (blanched or microwaved for 20 to 30 seconds)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Cover a rimmed, heavy-duty baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Toss the cherry tomatoes and the squash separately (and gently) with 1 tablespoon olive oil each and a big pinch of salt.

2. Spread the squash in one layer on one half of the baking sheet. Roast for five minutes. Carefully tip the bowl of cherry tomatoes onto the baking sheet. (If you can keep most of the halves cut-side up, that’s great.) Roast until the squash is tender and browned (the cherry tomatoes will be shrunken and a bit charred around the edges), about 22 to 24 more minutes. You can flip the squash once during cooking with a metal spatula, but don’t mess with the cherry tomatoes. Let the veggies cool for 10 minutes or so on the sheet pan.

3. If the lentils are cold, microwave them for 45 seconds to one minute to take the chill off. Put them in a mixing bowl and season with a big pinch or two of salt. Stir together 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the lime juice, the orange juice, and the garlic and pour and scrape it over the lentils and corn. Add most of the cilantro and toss and stir the lentil mixture gently. Taste for salt and lime. (Be aware that the flavors build over time.)

4. Using a metal spatula, scrape the cherry tomatoes and squash off the sheet pan and into the bowl. (Don’t worry if some of the tomatoes fall apart—just be sure to scrape the bits up as they are full of flavor.) Mix gently and taste again.

5. Transfer to a serving dish or individual dishes and garnish with the remaining cilantro.