Monday, January 20, 2014

Who needs a bowl when you have acorn squash?

Friday night we gobbled up Thai food.

Saturday night we dug into Vietnamese food.

Tonight we savored a blend of Indian & Thai.

And fortunately, there are leftovers!

I found a recipe for winter vegetable dal in the latest issue of my Eating Well magazine and decided to give it my own twist. Rather than making the coconut curry lentil soup with squash in it, I decided to serve it in half of a roasted acorn squash.  Delicious!

It's rich with coconut milk and warm spices with chunks of veggies just made for curry dishes: cauliflower, sweet red pepper, and baby kale. The lentils add a nice, hearty texture to the soup, soaking up the flavorful broth. Packed with fiber, protein and a variety of vitamins, lentils round out the dish, making a single bowl satisfying as a meal.

And with plenty of leftovers, I have plans to doll up this warm, fragrant dish in a variety of ways later this week.  I'll serve it in bowls with warm slices of spiced halloumi on top, I'll ladle it over roasted sweet potatoes and if there is any left after that, I think it would be delicious over ginger mashed carrots & rutabaga.  Try your own variations!

Happy eating!

Winter Vegetable Dal

2 small acorn squash OR 2 1/2 c cubed, peeled winter squash/sweet potato

2 T coconut oil (or safflower oil)
1 t brown mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
1 T curry powder
12 fresh curry leaves or 1 large bay leaf (I had neither & it was still flavorful)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, finely diced (use fresh, canned or dry chiles soaked in hot water - any medium heat chile would be work here)
3 T finely chopped fresh ginger 
4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c red lentils (I used brown, but red would cook faster and lend a nice complimentary color to the warm spices)
1 14 ounce can "lite" coconut milk
1 1/2 t salt 
1 t ground turmeric
2 c cauliflower florets
1 medium or large chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (I used crimini)

2 c baby kale leaves (or winter greens of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Split each acorn squash in half either way, scoop out seeds and nestle into a baking dish. Rub insides with coconut oil and sprinkle with curry powder, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until tender and brown around the edges (about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the squash).


1. Get all veggies and other ingredients chopped and ready to go.  One time saver is to put the onion, ginger, chile, and garlic in your food processor and pulse to mince. 

2. Heat oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over low medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry powder (plus curry leaves, if using). Stir and cook until seeds start to pop (this happens fast - in about 20 - 30 seconds). Add onion, ginger, chile and garlic to pot, stir occasionally until onion softens and browns (about 4-5 minutes).

3. Add water, lentils, coconut milk, salt, turmeric (and bay leaf, if using). Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent the lentils from sticking. Add cauliflower, red pepper, mushrooms (and squash/sweet potato, if using instead of acorn squash bowls) and return to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered until veggies are almost tender - about 15 minutes. Add kale and stir to submerse the leaves. Cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes until all veggies are cooked through.

Serve dal in acorn squash bowls.  I topped mine with toasted cashews and coconut flakes.  You can also squeeze lime juice on top and sprinkle on fresh cilantro.

Post here to let me know what variations you try at home!

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