Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Lentils and Apples with Acorn Squash: A Fall Staple at Hillel
During the years I was cooking at Hillel for the UW students, I created hundreds of dinners for Shabbat and the holidays. Whenever we served chicken or beef for dinner, we always offered a vegetarian entrée alongside. One of my most requested vegetarian dishes for the fall months was sweet and sour lentils served in a bowl of steamed squash.
Now, I am a bit biased since I adore lentils – red, brown, green ... all of them. But I must say, this is a lovely lentil recipe. The sweet and sour flavor comes from adding honey or maple syrup and red wine vinegar. I include apples for more fall essence, but pears or quince would be nice, too. It’s certainly not a pretty dish – very brown – so you do need a sprig of something green to jazz it up. What it lacks in looks, though, it makes up for in taste.
I usually serve these lentils in acorn squash halves, but I’ve also spooned them over spaghetti squash. It’s tasty warm or room temperature, making it ideal to feed a crowd at a potluck (or some hungry college students!). And did I mention it’s inexpensive, freezes well, is vegan and can be gluten-free if you use tamari in place of the soy sauce? Whew, that’s a lot of virtues for one dish! Let the humble lentil shine!
Lentils and Apples with Acorn Squash
Lentils adapted from New Kosher Cuisine for All Seasons
By Ivy Feurerstadt and Melinda Strauss
Serves 4 as a main dish, or 8 as a side dish (cut into quarters)
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
A dash of garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
1 apple, cored and diced
2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeds scraped out
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for serving
In a medium sized saucepan, stir together the first nine ingredients. Add the lentils and mix well. Bring to a boil, cover, turn the heat down and let simmer for about an hour, stirring a few times and tossing the diced apple into the saucepan after the first 20 minutes. Check to see if the lentils are soft and the liquid has thickened. If too liquidy, let simmer uncovered near the end. The lentils should have the consistency of a thick sauce.
While the lentils are cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the 4 squash halves in a roasting dish (cut a small slice off the bottom of each if needed so they sit securely) and add about an inch of water to the pan. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Steam the squash until tender, about 30-45 minutes depending upon how large they are. Remove from oven and set aside until lentils are cooked.
Place the squash halves on a serving platter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the lentils into each half and top with a sprig of parsley.
If making ahead: Prepare the squash and lentils and keep separate. When close to serving, spoon the lentils into the squash and warm in the oven.