There just couldn’t be a more perfect day for a dish with delicate squash, tender black lentils, sweet caramelized onions, and bright leeks.
Roast squash. I just can’t get enough delicious and healthy roast squash right now. Even when it’s gluten-free and vegan, lactose-free and refined sugar free (like this recipe), the flavor of roast squash dishes in the fall just shines. Add some caramelized onions and you have a seriously addictive meal that also happens to remain pretty healthy!
It seems only fair warn you; I’m eating squash every day, which almost certainly means that I’m going to post about it every day. Or, at the very least, more days than you sweet readers will probably want to endure.
Feeling the chill wrap up around my toes from the cool wood floors, I am transported back a million years (more or less) to growing up in Minnesota. The darkness would creep in earlier and earlier through the season and linger far later into the mornings. The freezing air would begin to wrap its way around me, become bolder with the dark. Gently brushing my face and then, as the season progressed, working its way deeper and deeper inside. In early fall, a brief and glancing touch that would quickly fade and be forgotten. Finding confidence in the winter, tickling and freezing my eyelashes and nostrils, then moving into my nose and working its way deeper, curling down into my lungs and burrowing into the marrow of my bones. Wrapping myself in sweaters and sweatshirts, winding scarves around my face, blasting heat, the cold was persistent and could not ever be completely avoided, a stalker who managed to be everywhere. Peering in through the windows, drawing beautiful frost-lined sketches on the glass, blowing under the doors, and hiding unseen in the basement, waiting always to wrap its icy fingers around my toes.
In high school, I the greatest band of friends; fierce and independent women I was proud and excited to spend time with. They were each more talented, more exciting, and far cooler than I could ever be. Dancer, singers, and actresses we were; dramatic and filled with life. Fall was a special time for our group. We spent so much time out in nature as the leaves turned and the air cooled, encouraging the wind to whip wildly, the sky to go dark, and the moon and the stars to shine bright around us. It was then that I fell in love with the encroaching cold, a distant lover I can remember fondly now that there is half of a continent between us.
Fat, round squashes of all shapes and sizes seemed to be a backdrop through much of this time, but in my memory they were always decoration. It wasn’t until I got older and moved away that I discovered how phenomenally tasty they are. Now, a great deal of fall and part of winter here are spent roasting squash after squash and incorporating each into different dishes. Soups, salads, pastas, pizzas, there’s no end to the meals you can make with a good roast squash. Inexpensive and simple, healthy roast squash is so easy to prepare in advance, tossing them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe chilies, maple syrup, or nutmeg, you can have days worth of healthy roast squash available to play with.
You can see in the pictures that I went ahead and roast some Acorn squash with my Delicata Squash. If you do that, be aware that the Delicata Squash will be done long before the Acorn, so just make sure you keep an eye on it and pull it out of the oven before you finish roasting the Acorn squash. It was also really easy to roast the caramelized onions at the same time as the squash!
With no more distractions, I give you what will probably be the first of several squash recipes in the next few days:
**Update!!! here are a few of the squash recipes from this season:
and, of course, there’s the gooey, creamy baked “mac & cheese” spaghetti squash!
Healthy Roast Squash: Delicata Squash with Black Lentils, Caramelized Onions and Leeks
(You’ll see that for the picture, I kept all of the ingredients separate and layered them carefully. Those are Korean chili threads on the top, if you’re wondering! However, if you mix everything all together, you’ll have something with amazing flavor that is easy to throw together and enjoy! It’s just so fun to take a simple recipe and make it look complex.)
Delicata squash is one of those wonderful squash that don’t need to be peeled. The skin is tasty and offers a great textural counterpart to the soft flesh of the roast squash.
- 1 each delicata squash
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 1 pinch chili flakes (I used Aleppo)
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup black lentils
- 3 cups water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs dijon mustard
- 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
- salt, pepper
- 1 each onion, peeled and sliced 1/4"-1/2" thick
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 1 each leek, white and pale green parts only, cleaned well and sliced into rings
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 small pinch salt
- 1 handful baby arugula
- Korean Chili Threads
- 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
- 1 pinch crunchy salt, like Maldon
- Preheat oven to 375
- Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds
- Slice about 1/2" thick
- Toss with oil, salt, pepper, chili, and nutmeg.
- Roast on a baking tray unlined or lined with foil 15 minutes.
- Flip all of the pieces, and roast for 10-15 more minutes, until the squash is tender and turning color.
- (For easier plating and eating, cut the squash into bite-sized pieces.)
- Preheat oven to 400
- Toss the onions with the oil, salt, and pepper.
- Place in a single layer on a baking tray unlined or lined with foil.
- Roast for 15 minutes, mix well, and roast for 15 more minutes, or until onions begin to caramelize
- Mix all of the ingredients except the olive oil and parsley well.
- Incorporate the olive oil slowly, whisking constantly to achieve an emulsified dressing.
- Gently stir in the parsley.
- Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Bring the lentils, cold water, oil, and salt up to a boil and reduce heat to low.
- Cook 15-25 minutes, until the lentils are just tender.
- Drain and allow to cool.
- Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
- Prepare an ice bath (ice water in a bowl large enough to fit the leeks).
- Drop the leeks into the water, bring back to a boil, and remove after 15-25 seconds. The leeks should still be fairly crisp.
- Drop immediately into the ice water.
- Before serving, drain, dry thoroughly, and allow to come to room temperature. Toss with a little olive oil and salt.
- Toss the lentils with about 1/2 of the dressing and the nutritional yeast (if using).
- (To plate like the picture, you'll keep everything separate to layer it, but drizzle each ingredient with a little of the dressing.)
- Add the squash, onions, and leeks and a little more dressing, salt, and pepper.
- Add the arugula, mix, taste, and adjust seasoning with dressing, salt, and pepper.
- Plate and top with crunchy salt and chili threads, if using!