Sunday 6 October 2013

Squash and Lentil Stew with Saffron-Sage Rice

Ouch, okay not my best plating job - but it tasted great and you can plate it any way you prefer. It wouldn't be fall on the blog if I wasn't doing something with squash. Last year we went over some different kinds of squash and things you can do with them. I'm going to show you one recipe where I used two different kinds of squash I'd never tried before and they turned out to be a scrumptious and wholesome treat. This is a vegetable stew with the influence of Moroccan spices. If you want to keep this a vegan/vegetarian dish, please be my guest. The day before I made this stew I made a big batch of chicken stock that turned out really good so I used that. You can use vegetable stock if you prefer.

You can use any vegetables you want. This was a good opportunity to use up some stuff I had on hand. For protein and substance I used lentils but feel free to interpret this dish any way you want. The two kinds of squash that I used (pictured below) are turban squash (left) and white swan squash. Like most other squash they are sweet and earthy but mild in flavour. I removed the seeds and carved the inedible skin away and then grated them. This enables the squash to cook a lot faster. In fact, the squash actually disintegrates and thickens up the sauce. 


Being the foodie that I am, I have to show off the heirloom tomatoes that I found. When I was younger I never used to buy these because they looked so deformed but I have since learned that the flavour they bring is stupendous. They are hard to cut symmetrically because of their bizarre shapes but for an application like this, roughly chopped and stewed, they work amazing. Please treat yourself to these if you can find them.


1/2 turban squash, seeded,skinned and grated
1/2 swan white squash, seeded, skinned and grated
1 onion, roughly diced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
3 heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 can lentils, washed and drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock/broth
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Olive oil, as needed (a few tbsps)

I'm just going to go over the stew in detail. For the rice I used 2 cups chicken stock, 1 cup water, 2 cups basmati rice, a pinch of saffron, 1/2 tsp turmeric and salt. Combine everything in a saucepan except the rice and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes then remove from heat and let stand (still covered) for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and stir in some fresh chopped sage. 

For the stew, heat a couple tbsp of olive oil in a pot or dutch oven. Add the mushrooms, season, and sautée for a few minutes until brown. Mushrooms are like sponges for liquid and oils so you may have to add a tbsp or 2 of oil while frying. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. 

Add the onion and sautée until translucent. Add the green pepper and sautée for an additional couple of minutes. Add the grated squash (I ended up with between 3-4 cups) and sautée for at least four minutes. I recommend another round of seasoning to help break down the squash. During this time, liquid will be released and starch will convert to sugar. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and other spices and then stir for about a minute. Then add the garlic and tomatoes and stir frequently for 3-4 minutes. Pour in the broth or stock and give everything a good stir. When the liquid comes to a boil, add the lentils and cooked mushrooms, stir, and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Let the stew simmer away for 1-1.5 hours, stirring from time to time. You may need to add more stock if it reduces too much. 


A couple of minutes before serving, add the chopped sage and stir. Serve with the rice, but this would also go well with bread, couscous or any other rice side dish you may prefer. This will recipe will yield enough for about five servings. Always remember to taste for seasoning and adjust. Enjoy this incredibly delicious, healthy, versatile and seasonal recipe idea.

Until next time,


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