Chef Perno’s French Green Lentil Salad with Winter Squash


Chef Jonathan Perno grew up in New Mexico in a household that had a “lot of traditional New Mexico food, especially around the holidays.” Meals were always at the table and the food was the focal point. “We were always excited when she made cakes,” Chef Jonathan says of his mother. He and his brothers would crowd into the kitchen to see who got the beaters, the spoon and the bowl to lick clean. Today he keeps his heritage with him in the kitchen. “All the chiles I use now are via my mother’s methods.” His lentil and winter squash salad is a hearty addition to any holiday table, where “people should be together. When there’s good food happening, you can’t beat that.”

French Green Lentil Salad with Winter Squash
2 cups French green lentils (Du Pays)
water as needed
1 medium carrot, small dice
½ large red onion, small dice
1 rib celery, small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup   red wine vinegar
¼ cup   Dijon mustard
½ cup + 2 Tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste
¼ bunch parsley, rough chop
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, large dice
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts

In a 4 quart sauce pot add 6 cups water and cleaned lentils. Bring to a boil, drain, rinse and add back to pot with 6 more cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 25 minutes or until beans are tender. Turn off heat,  stir in salt to taste and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together carrot, onion, celery, garlic, vinegar, mustard and ½ cup olive oil and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Set aside. Drain beans, toss with dressing, cover with plastic and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing and stirring a couple of times throughout. While beans are marinating, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add butternut, season with salt and pepper, allow to caramelize for a few minutes on all sides and sauté until tender. Taste and adjust seasoning on lentils, toss with butternut, place in serving bowl and garnish liberally with chopped parsley and walnuts.

Jonathan Perno is the executive chef at Los Poblanos in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, 4803 Rio Grande Boulevard NW. 505.344.9297.


Story by Caitlin Richards

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