Roasted Acorn and Delicata Squash, Lentils, Merguez and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Okay, so the name of this dish doesn’t exactly roll off of the tongue and, yes, there are a lot of elements going on here. But no single part is that difficult, most can be made in advance and the individual pieces can be used in other combinations. In fact, this recipe is something that I took bits and pieces from one recipe that was somewhat underwhelming as a whole but had a few nice elements. The spiced pumpkin seeds are so addictive that I advise you to double the recipe and set some aside for nibbling or you won’t have any when it comes time to serve! They are marvelous as a nosh with a drink. And if you want to keep this vegetarian, lose the merguez sausage and cook up some brown rice, wheat berries or farro to add to the lentils.

Roasted Acorn and Delicata Squash, Lentils, Merguez and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds adapted from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin

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Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

For the spiced pumpkin seeds

1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds

4 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For the roasted squash

1 medium butternut squash, skin on, halved, seeded and sliced into 1/3 inch slices. Bigger pieces can be halved again.

1 medium delicata squash, skin on, halved, seeded (I like to use a melon baller for removing the seeds) and sliced into 1/3 inch slices

2 Tablespoons EVOO

Kosher or sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

For the lentils

2 cups of green lentils or lentils du puy

2 Tablespoons chopped red onion or shallot

a large handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt and Aleppo or fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

For the dressing

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 Tablespoons Apple Cider or white wine vinegar

scant 1/2 cup EVOO

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo or fresh cracked black pepper

Generous 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon sugar, preferably raw or Demerara

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 inch strip of anchovy paste, optional

Garnish

Crumbled feta or goat cheese (or if you are being a bit decadent, a round of marinated Cabecou such as one by Laura Chenel)

Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing and set aside in a glass bottle or covered measuring cup. I like for the flavors to meld.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Mix the pumpkin seeds with the lime juice, cayenne pepper and salt and spread on the parchment. Toast for 12 minutes. Stir the seeds and continue toasting for 12 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Any left-over seeds will keep up to 3 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge or up to a week in a cool room. I dare you to have any last that long! img_2424
  3. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking pans with parchment and in a single layer, place the delicata squash on one pan and the butternut squash on the other. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and EVOO and toss. Roast for 30 minutes and then flip the squash pieces and rotate the pans. Roast until brown, about another 10 minutes more for the delicata squash and up to 20 minutes more for the butternut squash.
  4. Rinse and drain your lentils. Bring them to a boil in water to cover by 2 inches, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 23 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the type of lentil you are using. I am using a de puy lentil because it keeps it shape well when cooked and is wonderfully aromatic. You want the lentil to be tender, but still holding its shape. Drain them and toss while warm with about 6 tablespoons of the dressing. You want it well-dressed, but not drowned. Add 2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion or shallot and a large handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. Even though the dressing has salt and pepper, I always add a bit more to the lentils directly.
  5. Slice the merguez (or other sausage) on the diagonal and brown, cooking through in a frying pan. I then add the sausage to the lentils and mix through, but you can keep them separate if you prefer. I’m not big on dictates. img_2440

I like to serve the lentils and merguez slightly warm and everything else at room temperature. img_2434This can be assembled over a bed of arugula that has been tossed with some of the dressing. I would layer the dressed arugula first, then add the lentil/merguez mixture, some of the roasted squashes, a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and crumbled goat cheese. I plan on serving this with a nice Truett Hurst Red Field Blend red wine and some crusty bread. Any leftovers (other than arugula with dressing) can be used on their own or in combination. I have been known to put roasted squash into sandwiches and over pasta and the lentils and sausage would be wonderful with eggs.

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