Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen (Storey Publishing, 2017) by Brittany Wood Nickerson is where good food meets healing properties in a variety of unique recipes. From rosemary-olive oil tea cake to lavender and dandelion flower muffins, Nickerson shows readers how to use an herbalist’s touch in what we cook for a sustenance-filled, healing collection of recipes. For the fall and winter, take advantage of in-season crops and make a healthy and hearty meal, like this butternut squash stuffed with lentils, walnuts, and a variety of flavorful herbs.
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Butternut Squash Stuffed with French Lentils and Walnuts
Squash is a fabulous storage crop that offers filling, sweet, comforting fall and winter fare. When it is the season, nothing makes me happier than the smell of hearty foods roasting in the oven and the bounty that greets me at the table.
For the Filling
• 1 cup dried French lentils
• 1 cup walnuts
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cups chopped onion (2 medium onions or 3 small)
• 1/4 cup fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
• 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
• 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
• Paprika and fresh sage leaves, for garnish (optional)
For the Squash
• 2 butternut squashes, 2-1/2 to 3 pounds each
• Olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Begin the filling: Soak the lentils in enough water to cover by 6 inches for 6 to 10 hours. Soak the walnuts in enough water to cover by 1 inch for 6 to 10 hours. Then drain both. Coarsely chop the walnuts.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
3. Prepare the squash: Cut the squashes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds (consider saving them to roast). Rub the inside of the squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the squashes facedown on a baking sheet. Roast for 40 to 55 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the squash, until the thickest part is just fork-tender. (If you cook it too long, the squash meat will start to separate from the skins, which will make it a little harder to serve.)
4. Meanwhile, continue the filling: Combine the lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, skim any foam off the top, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, let sit for 15 minutes, and then drain; this “steeping” will help the lentils absorb water and continue
to cook without getting mushy or falling apart.
5. Warm the 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sage, thyme, rosemary, and chopped walnuts, and cook until the fresh sage leaves turn bright green and aromatic or until the dried herbs are aromatic and tender, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
6. Drain any liquid from the roasting pan and turn the squash halves faceup. Scoop a bit of the squash from the neck to create more room for the stuffing. Dice that bit of cooked squash coarsely — it will be very soft, but cutting it will help make mixing it into the stuffing easier.
7. Combine the lentils with the onion mixture, and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the diced cooked squash and cheese until just combined. Spoon the stuffing into the squash. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until the stuffing is hot through. (If you like, the squash can be stuffed ahead of time and baked just before serving.) Garnish with paprika and fresh sage leaves, if desired.
8. Serve hot. I like to let people eat it right out of the skin, although sometimes the skin is tender enough to eat too.
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Excerpted from Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen, © by Brittany Wood Nickerson, photography by © Keller + Keller Photography, used with permission from Storey Publishing. Buy this book from our store: Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen.