Lentil salad with roast pumpkin and walnuts

The past few weeks here in Holland we’ve been treated to an amazingly beautiful autumn, with bright blue skies, mild temperatures and a view of every shade of red, orange and yellow in the book. Now that November rains have started, I’m holding on to that happy sensation by bringing those vibrant autumnal colours and flavours to my plate in this warming lentil salad.

This salad combines some of my favourite ingredients. Puy lentils, the Rolls Royce among pulses, spread a lovely herby fragrance even when simply cooked in water, but when you add veggies and herbs to the cooking water they’ll turn any salad into a truly sophisticated dish. The walnuts were a gift from my father-in-law’s garden. After having watched them grow these past few months, it feels rather special using them in my kitchen now. And roast pumpkin – well, what’s not to love about that? After the October pumpkin craze I still happily use pumpkins and squashes wherever I can. These simple roast wedges are already lovely eaten on their own – the girls and I ate half of the batch straight off the baking tray before mixing the rest with the salad and eating this like civilised people. With the sweetness of the pumpkin being balanced by the vinegar dressing and the earthy flavours of the walnuts and lentils, this is just one big, healthy, nourishing plate of comfort food.

If you like, you could add some torn mozzarella for extra creaminess, or sliced avocado if you’d like to keep it vegan. With crusty bread on the side it makes a satisfying supper; without it, it makes a lunch after which you can defy any kind of weather. Enjoy!


Lentil salad with roast pumpkin and walnuts – serves 4


  • 200 g Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 celery sticks, roughly cut
  • 1 large carrot, roughly cut
  • ½ onion or 2 shallots, halved
  • 10 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Hokkaido pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 g flat leaf parsley
  • 200 g mixed salad leaves in different colours (I used lollo rosso, lollo biondo and red oak leaf lettuce)
  • 100 g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 200 g mozzarella, torn, or 2 avocado’s, sliced (optional)
  • balsamic vinegar, to taste



Heat the oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas 7.

Tip the lentils into a pan together with the celery pieces, the carrot, onion, thyme and bay leaf. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until just tender. Start checking for doneness after 12 minutes, because you don’t want to overcook them!

While the lentils are cooking, halve the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and threads and cut the halves into 1½ cm thick wedges. Toss them with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and arrange them on a lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, then roast for 20-25 minutes until tender.

Drain the lentils and remove the vegetables and herbs. Finely chop half of the parsley and stir it through the lentils, together with the vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the lettuce leaves between four plates. Top with the lentils, the roast pumpkin wedges and the mozzarella or avocado, if using. Scatter with the walnuts and the remaining parsley. Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar and enjoy!