A successful Improvisation with Butternut Squash

I’ve got no picture for you today because, well, photographing lentil stew is tricky business and my limited photography skills were no match for this tasty! refreshing! ugly! dish.

    Over a week ago my Sister-in-Law brought home two big butternut squash (squashes?).
(I looked the plural of squash up on WikiAnswers and it looks like they’re confused too. I’m going to go with squashes because it’s just more fun to say. Yes? yes.) Anyway, they lounged on our counter looking quite out of place in all their autumnal glory, surrounded by summer berries and vegetables. I love butternut squash but right now right now I’m more interested in using the pattypans, zucchini, or yellow crooknecks that are exploding out of every Farmer’s Market stand. But I can’t just leave the butternut to rot can I? No I can’t.
    After some half-hearted thinking and not much research (like I said, not so interested) I decided to go with my fool proof favorite galette. This beauty is in high rotation during the fall months and is just plain wonderful. It takes a bit of prep and a hot oven but the results are worth it.

So into the kitchen I went. I diced up the butternut squash (I leave the skin on and then cut it off after roasting, does anyone else do this?), threw it on a baking sheet, olive-oiled it, salted it, and threw it in a 400º oven for 20 minutes. Halfway through my workout I came inside to check on the squash’s progress. I pulled a piece off the sheet, let it cool, popped it in my mouth…and cringed.

It was the saltiest of the saltiest.

It tasted like the ocean.

Butternut squash fail.

I left the pan on the counter to cool and finished up my workout, distracted by how to save dinner. My husband, Tobias, is the throw-things-together-in-a-pan-and-make-them-taste-good wiz while I am a rigid recipe user kind of girl, so I pulled him in the kitchen and asked for his wisdom.

What we came up with blends the intense saltiness with creamy lentils and heady spices. A little crunch from the walnuts and zing from the lime juice makes this a fresh summer friendly dinner that satisfied the whole family immensely.

Curried Butternut Squash & Lentil Stew

Original recipe

1 Butternut squash

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 onion sliced in half moons

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup lentils

1 Tablespoon yellow curry

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

lime juice to taste


1). Dice squash into 2” squares (as mentioned above, I leave the skin on and then peel it off once it’s roasted but if you’d rather peel it first, use a Y vegetable peeler or a sharp knife). Pour olive oil and (tons! if you want to be like me!) of salt on the squash and roast in a 400º oven for 20 minutes (start checking for done-ness at 15).

2). Meanwhile, put 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion and garlic in a medium-low saute pan and let caramelize, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

3). Also meanwhile, Add lentils to pot of bowling water and let simmer for 20 minutes until cooked a little more than al dente

4). Pour lentils into a huge serving bowl, add the curry and cumin and mix well. Add the now caramelized onions, salty salty squash, and chopped walnuts and mix until evenly distributed.

5). Serve with lime wedges that people can squeeze to their heart’s content.

*note: If you choose not to over-salt your squash like I did, I would recommend salting your onions and the water for the lentils.


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