Monday, January 18, 2010

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Curry

It has been warmer for the past couple of days, and the rain yesterday melted the snow, but we are still seriously lacking sun. It appeared for a short while today (and we rejoiced), so I celebrated by going out for a run. I envy those who live in communities which have paved roads and sidewalks, because all I have to run on are my trails (through our 50 acres) and they are often quite mucky. But I don’t have to worry about errant vehicles trying to run me down, either, so I shouldn’t complain. And I’m not! It was a wonderful run and, if the weather forecast is correct (haha), I will be able to do another on Wednesday.

Tonight I decided to use another of those ever-multiplying butternut squash which are in my basement. I don’t know how this happens, but I am quite certain that I harvested less of them last fall than I currently have in the basket, even though I use them regularly.

I adapted a recipe from October 2006 Cooking Light. Their Pumpkin and Red Lentil Curry became Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Curry. I had about 4 ounces more squash than the pumpkin which the recipe called for, but used it all anyway.

This was absolutely delicious, and Jack surprised me with how much he enjoyed it. This recipe was to make 6 servings, but… ;)

Remember, as you prepare this, that those little red lentils cook quickly and will become quite soft and fall apart if they are cooked for too long. It is for this reason that you should only cook the squash (pumpkin) until it just starts to soften, and add the lentils. By the time, then, that the squash is cooked the lentils will be perfectly done as well. I also added a little arrowroot to thicken it a bit more.

This is a very flavorful, very pretty stew. I am happy, and surprised, that I still have fresh cilantro in my cold-frame outside (despite the bitter temperatures of the past few weeks). The cilantro is a “must” for sprinkling on top of each serving and we also found out that some chopped roasted cashews are an excellent “topper” as well. We, obviously, figured out the cashews after this photo was taken.

This time, it was served with naan (Trader Joe's), next time I will serve it over brown basmati rice.

Pumpkin and Red Lentil Curry

Because pumpkin has a neutral taste, it works well in Indian curries, where it takes on the flavors of the spices. For the best results, choose pie pumpkin, which is smaller, sweeter, and more tender than the larger pumpkins used for carving jack-o'-lanterns. You can substitute brown lentils and cook them 20 to 30 minutes longer, adding more broth, if necessary.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled fresh pumpkin (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dried small red lentils
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 lime wedges

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in pumpkin and next 7 ingredients (through jalapeño); cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pumpkin is just tender. Stir in lentils; cook 10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in salt and black pepper. Ladle stew into individual bowls; sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups stew, 2 teaspoons cilantro, and 1 lime wedge)

CALORIES 222 (11% from fat); FAT 2.8g (sat 0.4g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.4g); IRON 4mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 123mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.9g; SODIUM 657mg; PROTEIN 10.3g; FIBER 8.7g

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2006