Lentil Stuffed Delicata Squash (V)
Lentil-Stuffed Delicata Squash (V)
This recipe was inspired by a dish I adored at Washington DC's Fancy Radish restaurant. This place is one of the best restaurants I have ever enjoyed, vegan or not. The chef-owners are Rich Landau & Kate Jacoby of "VEDGE" and "V" Philly restaurant fame, rock stars of the USA vegan movement. Their stunning cookbooks Vedge and V Street make for wonderful cooking inspiration and excellent leisure food-porn reading.
Delicata squash is unique in that the skin is gorgeous AND edible. I started investigating the mechanics of this dish by reading a New York Times recipe, but it quickly morphed into my own creation since I am simply incapable of following other people's recipes. I experimented with this dish four times during the month of December–our guests loved it–and I'm still having a ball with the variations and the leftovers. Here's my favorite, so far. Read through the steps completely as there are some do-ahead elements that will make this dish extra delicious and fun to whip up. (Alternatively, you can top with almost any vegan sauce, so go for it!)
You will need one-half section of delicata squash per serving, so decide how much you need, plus plan for some leftovers. This lentil recipe will support up to 10 stuffed squash, probably more!
Ingredients needed for the lentil stuffing
1-2 T olive oil
4-shallots, finely diced
2-T whole mustard seeds
2-t salt (or to taste)
1-t fresh black pepper
1-T balsamic vinegar
2-cups dry Le Puy (baby black) lentils
4-cups vegetable broth
2-T pickled golden berries (optional, instructions below).
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallots. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring gently. Add the spices and sauté until the entire mixture smells wonderful, about a minute. Add the lentils, broth, and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Stir occasionally. Simmer approximately 30 minutes, until the liquid has absorbed and lentils are tender. Cover and keep warm. (You may have extra lentils for tomorrow).
As the lentils cook, preheat oven to 375-degrees. Roast the skin of the squash on an open gas flame until it is blackened slightly for a minute or two. (This will add more flavor and look sexier, but is not essential if no gas flame is available.) Cool squash and cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds. Season squash with salt and pepper and place each half with the cut side down on a parchment covered baking sheet; roast for 25 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the flesh. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
To add a flavor bomb, which is what my plant-based cooking is really about, I simply pickled some golden berries, a super-food available at any market that sells whole foods. Golden raisins are a decent substitute. My pickling method is super easy: equal parts cider vinegar and water, a pinch of salt, and a generous hit of maple syrup into a pot. Taste it, if it is a good blend of sweet and sour–add your ingredient. Bring to a boil. Turn off and allow to set for 30 minutes. Store contents in a mason jar in the fridge. This method works well for red onions, too. Add this pickled stuff to everything!
Flip the roasted delicata squash face up and spoon in the warm lentils. This dish can be made a day ahead at this point, simply cover with foil and refrigerate until needed. Rewarm with the foil covering in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. When ready to serve, top with a generous dollop of Romesco Sauce or any favorite topping. Romesco is a smoky tomato and walnut based sauce, it is my 'magic sauce' that I put on just about everything. I like to add a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds and almonds for an extra protein kick.
The tomato base for Romesco Sauce is a roasted savory compote that I use as my 'master recipe'. It is something you will see repeatedly in my recipes, as it is foundational for many of my dishes and sauces. Every week of the year I roast up a big pan of tomatoes, garlic, salt, and olive oil and launch my cooking off of this indispensable base. It pairs well with pasta, grains, chili, soup, bruschetta, pizza, rice bowls, tofu frittatas, or any dish that needs some pop or a topping.
Kim's Tomato Compote
This is one of those 'go big or stay home' recipes–it really pays to do a large portion, you won't believe how fast it goes. If there happens to be any leftovers it freezes well or blends beautifully into leftovers or soups. I use a roasting dish that is 11"x9"x3", that holds roughly 12 -14 cups of a variety of cherry tomato sizes and colors. This is a forgiving recipe, you cannot blow this– just throw the tomatoes into the pan, add as many garlic cloves as you like, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a generous sprinkle of salt.
Place in a 375-degree oven for 60 minutes and roast until tomatoes are slightly blackened.
Use a potato masher to crush the mixture slightly, stir a little, and then continue to roast 15 minutes more. Your kitchen will smell amazing!
If you like fresh basil (or any herb, chili, or seasoning) now is the time to add it, to your taste.
Store tomato compote in a glass container, it will keep for 10 days in the fridge.
In a food processor, rough chop 1-cup walnuts with 10 pulses. Add 2-cups tomato compote and large pinch of smoked paprika (or to taste). Pulse 10x until a rough sauce is formed. Add 1-t good balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. Pulse 5x. Top stuffed squash with a generous dollop of sauce.
I’d love to hear from you—feel free to send your comments to me!