Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lentils and Squash ~ a Veggie Main Course

I know I've writing a disproportionate amount of posts about bacon—so yummy!—but in all honesty, I eat a lot of vegetarian meals. No, I'm not a vegetarian. No, I don't limit my meat consumption out of hippy-inspired concern for the earth (they have a point, though...). And, no, I don't do it because steak is more expensive than lentils. I just like vegetables and beans. Yes, I said it. I LIKE BEANS!

Yeah, yeah... Lentils aren't beans, they're legumes. For the record, according to The Penguin Companion to Food (also published as The Oxford Companion to Food), by Alan Davidson, beans are "any legume not classified separately as a pea or lentil," but that's splitting hairs in much the same way people talk about a tomato being a fruit and not a vegetable. And something is what it is no matter how you prefer to categorize it.

Anyway, here's the eye candy with the recipe to follow:

Lentils with Butternut Squash and Walnuts
1 butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cut into half-inch cubes)
1 shallot (chopped)
4 Tbsp. extra light olive oil (not to be confused with extra virgin olive oil)
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
1/2. tsp. salt
1 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup English walnuts, pecans or both (roughly chopped)
4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro (chopped)
Juice from half a lime
1. Preheat oven to 425°F and set a pot of unsalted water to boil.
2. Prepare the squash. In a bowl, combine the oil, salt and five-spice powder. Toss squash and chopped shallot in the mixture and then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Line it with foil for easier cleanup, if you wish.) Roast for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. When the water reaches a boil, add the lentils and cook until they soften but still hold their shape. (About 20 minutes.) Drain then in a sieve and place in serving dish.
4. Add the walnuts to the squash and roast another 5-10 minutes. Remove when the squash is tender and walnuts are toasted.
5. Add squash to the lentils and add lime juice and cilantro. Stir to combine or toss with flick of the wrist if feeling confident. Adjust seasoning with additional lime juice, salt or five-spice powder if desired.


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