Nows the time to make the most of cooking with winter squash. Roasting winter squash transforms the firm apricot/ orange coloured flesh into something sweet and delicious. I have to confess I am totally addicted to winter squashes, the diversity of shapes , sizes and colour. They make tasty hot soups but they also make seriously cool table decorations, centrepieces and ornaments in and around the home. My top eight winter squashes this year for cooking and decorating with are Turks Turban, Crown Prince, Harlequin , Red Kuri, Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Kabocha and an old favourite Pumpkin Munchkin.
Harlequin or Acorn squash work best in this recipe as when halved they make a perfect portion for one person and are easy to get hold of in supermarkets, farmers markets, green grocers and farm shops this month.
Nows the time to get cooking with an array of different varieties of squash. they can be stored until needed in a cool/dry place.
Once you have cut into the squash, its best to use them straight away.
- 2 harlequin or Acorn squash ( about 1.2 Kg )
- 80g green lentils
- 1 bay leaf ( fresh or dry )
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled, finely chopped ( about 200g )
- 1 red pepper, deseeded, finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, finely chopped
- 100g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
- 100ml red wine
- 1 400g tin whole tomatoes
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 5 stems of curly Kale
- olive oil
- handful of fresh basil leaves
- Flaky salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- chunk of parmesan for grating when serving
- Cut the squashes in half , scoop out the seeds and place the squash onto a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with a little flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place into the middle of the oven and roast for 40 - 50 minutes.
- Put the lentils into a sieve and wash under running water.
- Put the lentils into a pan with the bay leaf and 500ml cold water, bring to the boil then simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are tender and no longer crunchy, top up with a little extra water if they start to dry out. Pour into a sieve and allow to drain, discard the bay leaf.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy based pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, celery and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes ( mushing them up a bit with a wooden spoon ), tomato puree, runny honey, ground cumin, ground cinnamon and red wine ( just add vegetable stock if you have not got any wine handy ), turn up the heat, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and allow the mixture to simmer gently for 8 minutes.
- Add the drained lentils, put a lid on the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Pull the curly kale leaf away from its woody stems in bite size pieces and stir into the lentil bolognese. Cook for a further 3 minutes or so until the Kale is tender with the lid off.
- Taste and season with flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper, tear in the fresh basil leaves and stir through.
- To serve put a squash half onto each plate and spoon over the lentil bolognese and grate over some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Its good to finely chop the vegetables for the Lentil bolognese.
I used green lentils for this recipe as they keep their shape well and don’t need to be pre soaked. Store lentils in an airtight container and they should keep for up to 12 months.Lentils are small but a nutritional giant. They lower cholesterol, high in fibre, high in protein and contain good vitamins and minerals. A great store cupboard essential.
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around.I used Curly Kale in this recipe, but all varieties of Kale work well.
Harlequin squash their perfect boat shape makes them ideal for filling.
You can use chopped tinned tomatoes if you prefer in this recipe,but I think the flavour of good quality tinned whole tomatoes just seem to have a better flavour and cutting them up in the pan or giving them a quick mush up with a wooden spoon does not take long!