I cooked for a dinner party earlier this week in celebration of a special birthday. When I say "I" cooked, I really mean "we." Hugh came along and was a giant help. I can be quick, but four hands are more efficient than two. It was a group of twenty new friends, all strewn down the sides of a long table, drinking wine and sharing cheese plates. Nellie came up with all sorts of amazing little of details, from the paper bag menu cards to wrapping the homemade ice cream sandwiches in individual packages of parchment and baker's twine. Remember when I told you things like this were my dream? I love feeding people, and long tables, and laughing, and stringing lights, and grateful hearts. That's got to be my favorite part, making other people happy.
At the party, hosts being vegetarian, I served a version of this alongside some creamy polenta and a crisp butter lettuce, apple and arugula salad. Since I started cooking with beluga lentils, I haven't been able to use any other variety. They are just so stunning in color, and have more tooth to them than your average brown or red lentil. It worked, and I'm pretty sure the meat eaters didn't leave hungry either. Except for the one guy who took full advantage of the "one night off" his diet by finishing his meal with an entire stick of butter. I won't take that personally.
SAUTEED BELUGA LENTILS + BUTTERNUT SQUASH // Serves 4
This is one of those recipes that is to taste on a lot of things. You could adjust the garlic if you prefer, more herbs if you want the greenery, more curry if you like it spicy. However, note that the curry should not be an overpowering flavor here, it's intended to be a compliment. Any squash would work, maybe even a pumpkin. You follow me?
4 Cups Cubed Butternut Squash
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp. Curry Powder
1/2 Tbsp. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Muscavado/Natural Brown Sugar
2 Cups Cooked Beluga Lentils, drained
2 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Chopped Basil
1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley
2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Small Red Onion, Diced
Grated Manchego Cheese
Oven to 450'
1. On a baking tray, spread out the squash, add the olive oil, oregano, curry powder and salt and pepper. Use your hands and toss everything around until the spices are coating the squash evenly. Spread them out in a single layer, with as much space between possible. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 20-35 minutes. (The time differs based on water content of squash, size of cubes etc. Just watch them until the edges are brown and crispy).
2. While the squash are cooking, put the 2 Tbsp. olive oil and minced garlic in a pan over medium heat. Shake it around a few times, and allow the garlic pieces to crisp up a bit in the oil. Add the lentils and saute to cover them in oil. Continue to stir intermittently for about 10 minutes to warm through. Turn off the flame, but leave them in the warm pan until the squash is done.
3. Remove squash from oven and set aside, put the lentils in a bowl and add the red onion, apple cider vinegar, dijon and half of the herbs, stir. Add the squash chunks on top, the rest of the herbs, desired amount of grated manchego cheese and a grate of fresh ground pepper.