Butternut squash is available in our supermarkets all year round, as opposed to most other autumn and winter squashes, which we only see at those times of year. This availability makes it perfect for dishes that you want to eat throughout the year. One such dish is this Roasted Butternut squash with Lentils and Mushrooms, a hearty main course that is perfect for all seasons.
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I’ve given this recipe a Moroccan-inspired twist, incorporating dried dates, harissa paste and cinnamon to create those exciting and exotic flavours. The squash is cut in half and roasted for about two hours in both cinnamon and smoked paprika. The flesh is then hollowed out a little and stuffed with a mixture of lentils and mushrooms, sweetened with dates and spiced with harissa. The dish is finally topped with vegan yoghurt (Greek style), fresh chilli and parsley. This is an amalgamation of intense flavours that work in harmonious juxtaposition and will impress any guest.
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Roasted Butternut Squash with Lentils and Mushrooms
For the Roasted Squash:
- 2 medium butternut squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- A good pinch of salt
For the Filling:
- 20 dried dates
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion sliced
- 200 g closed-cup mushrooms each cut into 6 pieces
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 large tomatoes cut into wedges
- 1 carton/can cooked green lentils drained and rinsed
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 1 tsp harissa seasoning available in large supermarkets
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- A handful of chopped fresh parsley
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About 2 tbsp vegan Greek style yoghurt per squash half
- 2 red chillies deseeded and chopped
- A good pinch of chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
- Cut the squashes in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and score the flesh with a sharp knife. Now rub in the oil, spices and salt. Place on a large roasting sheet and cook in the lower middle part of the oven for about 2 hours, or until the flesh is tender.
- Put the dried dates into a bowl, boil the kettle and pour the water over the dates. Leave them to soak in the hot water for about 20 minutes.
- About 30 minutes before the squashes are ready you can start making the filling. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan or wok, add the onions and mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes on a medium-high heat, until they are soft and browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then put in the tomato wedges and give it 3-4 minutes more.
- Remove the dates from the water then deseed and roughly chop them. Add them to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Now pour in the lentils and cook those for a few minutes more.
- Now put in the rest of the filling ingredients, season to taste and cook through for about 5-7 minutes, or until any excess liquid has evaporated.
- Once the squashes are cooked, remove them from the oven and scoop out some of the flesh to create hollows for stuffing. Add the flesh to the filling mix and stir through.
- Fill each squash half with the filling, then top with the yoghurt, chillies and parsley. Serve immediately.
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