Black lentils have so much drama to them, especially when they are paired with anything that is contrasting in color … which is pretty much anything that isn’t black as well.
If you prefer to cook the lentils in chicken or vegetable broth, you will have a more flavorful dish all around. If you use vegetarian broth and skip the anchovies, you will have a vegetarian dish, but if that’s not of consequence to you and yours, do keep the anchovies, no matter what liquid you pick. They bring depth and umami and a something-something to the dressing.
Black lentil and butternut squash with Provencal vinaigrette
Start to finish: 50 minutes
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups black lentils
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or to taste
2 anchovies, rinsed and mashed to a paste with a fork
2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Fresh thyme sprigs to garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Peel the butternut squash well (this often takes a couple of passes with a vegetable peeler to get to the bright orange flesh), then trim the top and bottom off. Cut the bottom bulb off the squash, then cut both the top part and the bottom part of the squash in half vertically. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits from the bottom bulb. Slice the squash into slices about two inches in each direction, and 1/4-inch thick.
Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and toss it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread it out on the baking sheet so that it is mostly in a single layer. Roast the squash for about 20 minutes until tender, and perhaps slightly browned in a spot or two.
While the squash is roasting, add the lentils to the boiling water or broth. Return to a boil, then adjust the heat so that the liquid is at a simmer, and simmer uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
While the squash and lentils are cooking, in a small container add the remaining tablespoon olive oil, rice vinegar, Sriracha, anchovy paste, thyme, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and shake to blend well.
When the lentils have finished cooking, spread them out on a plate or baking sheet and let them cool to warm or room temperature. Place them in a large bowl with the squash, and drizzle the dressing over. Gently toss so they are well coated, and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the thyme sprigs if desired and serve warm or at room temperature.