Lentil and Pecan Filled Acorn Squash with Sage Fried Brown Butter
Source: Abra Berens, Grist
This wintertime classic can be made ahead and either frozen or kept in the fridge until you are ready. Simply rewarm in an uncovered roasting pan and serve with a green salad on the side.
2 to 3 acorn squash (or carnival, sweet dumpling, kabocha), about 1 lb [450 g] each, cut in half and seeded
1 small onion (about 4 oz [120 g]), diced or thinly sliced 4 garlic cloves, minced
5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup [125 ml] white wine or hard cider
1 cup (7½ oz [210 g]) lentils, any color except red
½ cup pecans (2 oz [60 g]), toasted and roughly chopped
1 orange (about 3 oz [90 ml]), zest and juice
Sage Fried Brown Butter (below)
Parmesan or Cheddar for grating over the top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Place the squash halves, cut-side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and bake until tender, about 25 minutes.
While the squash is cooking, heat a glug of neutral oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme leaves, and a big pinch of salt. Sweat until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce until almost dry. Add the lentils and briefly sauté in the onion mixture, about 2 minutes.
Add 2 cups [500 ml] of water and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
When the squash is cooked, remove from the oven but leave the heat on. Let the squash cool until you can handle it easily. Using a spoon, scoop most of the flesh from the squash into a large bowl, leaving a thin layer next to the skin so the squash shell stays intact.
Add the cooked lentils, pecans, orange zest and juice, and the brown butter to the squash pulp and season with a pinch or two of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Mix until well blended; adjust the seasoning as desired.
Scoop the squash filling into the squash shells, top with several gratings of Parmesan or Cheddar (if using), and rewarm, uncovered, in the heated oven until warm throughout, 10 to 15 minutes.
To serve, garnish with the fried sage by either placing whole leaves on top or gently crumbling to scatter evenly.
Sage Fried Brown Butter
2 to 4 oz [60 to 120 g] butter
10 sage leaves Salt
In a frying pan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Line a plate with paper towels.
Add the sage leaves and fry until dark green and no longer bubbling, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Lift the sage from the butter and drain on the paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
Scrape out the butter, including the brown bits on the bottom of the frying pan, and reserve in an airtight container.
The butter will store in the fridge indefinitely. The sage leaves will stay crisp at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.
Reprinted from Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes by Abra Berens with permission from Chronicle Books, 2021. Photographs © EE Berger.