Can anyone else believe it is October 1st already? We love fall here in Richmond as the leaves change and the streets of our neighborhood become about as beautiful as any we have seen. With autumn comes all of the flavors it has to bring — greens, root vegetables and of course hearty squash varieties! Acorn squash is one of our favorite fall varieties to cook with and I've been looking forward to sharing one of my favorite ways to prepare it here on the blog.
This recipe combines a little sweetness and a faint touch of India with the addition of garam marsala mixed in with the red lentils. Throw in another fall favorite, swiss chard, and we have ourselves a filling meal that's actually vegan-friendly as an added bonus!
Ingredients: (serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side)
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 2 cups red lentils
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup swiss chard leaves, cut into ribbons
- Chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 400° and start by slicing the acorn squash in half, scooping out the pulp and seeds. Brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil on both halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper — bake on center rack of the oven on a sheet pan for 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat additional tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and sauté onions and garlic until soft, 8-10 minutes. Mix in the garam marsala and stir to coat. Add the lentils with 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and allow to simmer slowly for 20 minutes — this is the point where your house is going to start smelling amazing:
Once the liquid is just about absorbed mix in the tomato paste, stirring to incorporate, then add the swiss chard, once again stirring to combine.
At this point, the squash will have just finished roasting, so we'll remove them from the oven and it's a simple process of stuffing each with a healthy serving of the lentil mixture:
Top with a sprinkling of crushed walnuts, which will complement the seasonal flavors of the acorn squash and add a little crunch to the overall dish:
One of the (many!) beauties of this dish is how it can be served immediately or prepared ahead of time to reheat in the oven when you are ready to serve. Can't you just almost smell the autumn aromas bursting off this baking pan.
Who else is excited for fall cooking? Do you have a favorite way to prepare fall and winter squash or just look forward to seeing their bright colors offered in the markets? Let us know in the comments sections — we're always looking for new recipes to try.