Oven-Roasted Acorn Squash with Curried Lentil Stew
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To prepare squash: Halve squash through the stem end; scoop out seeds. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each half so it rests flat. Place cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Combine olive oil honey, garam masala and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; brush the cut sides of the squash. Cover with foil.
Bake until the squash is tender, 40-45 minutes more. To test for doneness, the flesh should be fork tender. Turn off the oven, tent the squash with the foil and leave in the oven to keep warm.
To prepare stuffing: Bring water, lentils and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Adjust heat so the water is simmering, cover pan and cook until the lentils are not hard, but still maintain their shape, about 7 minutes. Drain, saving any lentil-cooking liquid; set lentils and liquid aside.
Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and cumin seeds and toast, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Place in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Add back to the pan together with leeks, garlic, carrots, shallots, ginger and pinch of salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in jalapeños, coriander and turmeric and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Stir in tomatoes and 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the lentils (if there isn’t enough, make up the difference with water). Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved lentils and simmer until they are soft and tender but not falling apart, 1-2 minutes. If the mixture seems dry, add more cooking liquid (or water). Stir in roasted peppers. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Divide the lentil stuffing among the squash (a generous 1 cup per half). Serve garnished with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt.
* Garam masala, a blend of spices used in Indian cooking, usually includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, cumin and coriander. It is available in the spice section of most supermarkets.
In Your Glass
The richness in this dish comes from the carmelization of the squash as well as a bit of hearty olive oil and the blend of savory and spicy herbs. Red wines from Spain’s Rioja region come to mind as a nice compliment to the dish. Some older vintages are now on the market and are tasting great. From Shafer, Doug or I would likely reach first for the Merlot with its enticing red and black fruit flavors.