So - hello the 1st October and also, Vegan MoFo! That is - Vegan Month of Food, a celebration of vegan food and vegan food blogging for the whole of the month, with bloggers across the world joining in to blog at least 20 posts on the topic of vegan food (if you want to add their RSS feeds to your reader, they are all bundled in categories here). It is thanks to Caroline of the Tea & Sympatico blog I found out about this!
And to start off - how about some simple, tasty, autumnal food that comforts you right down to your toes on a dark night - what more could you need? Not much more, apart from maybe a mug of mulled wine to wash it down.
Using seasonal butternut squash and red lentils, this is a very budget-friendly meal which apart from the roasting of the squash, all happens in one pot. And it's made from seasonal ingredients which are not difficult to come by at all. The only one that might not be available in your local supermarket is coconut oil (which I've used because I prefer to fry with it nowadays) and if you don't have it at hand, olive oil will suffice.
I love the red and orange colours of this stew, and the sweet taste of the squash with the subtle flavour of the herbs and spices, including the warming touch the ground mixed spice adds to the dish. You could add another half a teaspoon of the mixed spice if you want a stronger flavour of it.
As long as you ensure to use gluten free stock powder or stock cube to make your stock (if not making from fresh, which I rarely do) then the meal is gluten free, too.
I like this stew served with pickled red cabbage, and also a rocket salad goes nicely with it. This recipe makes a large panful - personally, I'd say for at least 6 people - but it depends on how greedy or hungry you are! If you are cooking for 4 body-builders each over 6ft tall, maybe it will just about serve them with some bread to mop up the juices.
If you're cooking for people who focus on intuitive eating and try to eat only enough to fill their bellies, rather than build their biceps, then you've definitely got enough here to feed a few, especially with something else accompanying.
So - what are you waiting for? Go grab some seasonal squashes and warm up your evenings with nourishing food!
Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Lentil One-Pot Stew
1 teaspoon coconut oil, for frying (use olive oil if you don't have coconut)
1 medium butternut squash, quartered lengthways and deseeded
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, quartered lengthways and chopped into pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup / 175g red split lentils
3 cups / 750ml hot vegetable stock (fresh or using a stock cube or powder)
2 cups / 500g carton passata
2 bay leaves (I use fresh ones, but dried will be fine)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 200 / 400. In a roasting pan, lay the butternut squash quarters skin-side down and bake the squash for about 45 minutes or until tender. When cooked, leave aside to cool.
2. In a large, heavy based stockpan, melt the coconut oil on a medium heat then add the chopped onions. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes, then add the chopped carrots. Continue to fry for 4-5 minutes or so, then stir in the garlic and sauté just another minute.
3. Pour the vegetable stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Add the lentils, then turn the heat down to a high simmer. Add the passata, bay leaves, cumin, thyme, mixed spice and sea salt. Cover the pan and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently so the stew doesn't stick.
4. While the lentils are cooking with the other ingredients, prepare the cooled butternut squash. Scoop the flesh away from the skin, keeping the squash as intact as possible, and then cut the squash flesh into cubes.
5. Once the lentil stew is fully cooked and the lentils are soft and edible, turn the heat off. Gently mix the butternut squash into the stew. Leave for a few minutes so the butternut squash cubes heat through from the stew (this helps the squash to not, um, get squashed!).
6. Pile into bowls and sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Serve with crusty bread and slices of pickled beetroot or red cabbage.