Wheatless Wednesday – Butternut Squash and Lentils with Cumin and Lime

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Here’s a marriage made in heaven!  Two of my favorite foods, creamy butternut squash paired with earthy lentils is divine in this dish with shallots, pecans, cumin and lime.  Yum! Best of all it’s simple, delicious and good for you. Butternut squash is my favorite of the hard winter squashes and still in season.  Butternut squash has a natural sweetness that really shines when brushed with olive oil and roasted, and it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, as evidenced by it’s brilliant orange color.

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Lentils are not beans or seeds. They are edible pulses (or legumes) which are a great source of plant protein.  They range in color from yellow to black with shades of red, green and brown in between.  The most common lentils found in American markets is the brown lentil which is mild and holds it’s shape pretty well after cooking, although it can get mushy if cooked too long.  My favorites are the green (French Green Puy Lentils to be specific)  and the black (Beluga Lentils) which are prized in the lentil world as they have a nuttier flavor, exquisite colors and hold their shape extremely well.  Red lentils are also fairly easy to find. They are probably the sweetest of the lentils but tend to get mushy when cooked and are wonderful for thickening soups and stews. I chose the black lentils for this dish, partially because of the color contrast with the bright orange squash but also because their compact character almost acts as a condiment and compliments the squash without overwhelming it or becoming a soggy mess.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.anansana.com

TIPS:  Butternut squash is not that hard to peel but if you are looking for a shortcut, many supermarkets offer it already pre-cut.  Go for it.  That is a big time saver!  This recipe calls for about 2 pounds of cut up squash (a large butternut).  Supermarket packages of cut up squash are usually 16 to 18 ounces, which is equal to a small squash.  This recipe can easily be cut in half to accommodate a smaller amount of squash or to serve only a few people. Any kind of lentils will work except for yellow or red lentils which don’t retain their shape and are better suited to soups and stews.

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND LENTILS WITH CUMIN AND LIME

1 large butternut squash (about 2  pounds)
2 large shallots
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn cumin (or more)
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup lentils (black, green or brown)
1 Tbsn fresh thyme or 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsn fresh lime juice (or to taste)

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  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Halve, peel, and seed squash and cut into 1 inch cubes.

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  • Peel and thinly slice garlic and shallots

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  • Pile squash, shallots, garlic and pecans in a shallow baking dish large enough to sit in a single layer.  Sprinkle liberally with cumin,  salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine.

 

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  • Spread in a single layer and bake in the middle of oven until almost tender, about 25  minutes, tossing gently every 10 minutes or so.  If you like your shallots crispy and browned, push them towards the outside of the pan.

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  • While squash mixture is baking, cook lentils according to directions using broth instead of water, if desired.  I also like to add a pinch of cumin. Different kinds of lentils require different cooking time and liquid. Don’t overcook or they will fall apart.  Lentils should taste cooked but still be slightly al dente and retain their shape.(about 20 minutes, uncovered). Drain any excess liquid and set aside uncovered.

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  • Add lentils to squash mixture.  Squeeze lime juice over the top and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Toss gently to combine.

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  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Butternut Squash and Lentils with Cumin and Lime

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 large butternut squash (about 2  pounds)
2 large shallots
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn cumin (or more)
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup lentils (black, green or brown)
1 Tbsn fresh thyme or 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsn fresh lime juice (or to taste)

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Halve, peel, and seed squash and cut into 1 inch cubes.
  • Peel and thinly slice garlic and shallots
  • Pile squash, shallots, garlic and pecans in a shallow baking dish large enough to sit in a single layer.  Sprinkle liberally with cumin,  salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine.
  • Spread in a single layer and bake in the middle of oven until almost tender, about 25  minutes, tossing gently every 10 minutes or so.  If you like your shallots crispy and browned, push them towards the outside of the pan.
  • While squash mixture is baking, cook lentils according to directions using broth instead of water, if desired.  I also like to add a pinch of cumin. Different kinds of lentils require different cooking time and liquid. Don’t overcook or they will fall apart.  Lentils should taste cooked but still be slightly al dente and retain their shape.(about 20 minutes, uncovered). Drain any excess liquid and set aside uncovered.
  • Add lentils to squash mixture.  Squeeze lime juice over the top and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Toss gently to combine.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

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