I had a lot of squash. And I knew what to do with it.
I was blessed with getting a lot of squash from our CSA, and even a few more from my aunt, so I decided to begin with roasting about half of it, then pureeing it, and placing it in two-cup portions and then freezing. Whew. It really is quite a simple thing to do, actually.
It is just a multi-step process. I roast the squash when I’ve already got the oven on anyway, usually when I’m cooking dinner. Then, I just let the squash sit in the oven longer, until I’m good and ready to take them out. Maybe around bedtime? I just plop them on the glass-stove-top overnight, and deal with them when I’m good and ready the next day. Letting them sit, I’ve found, actually seems to help the meat separate from the skin. Which is cool.
And that, folks, is definitely me least favorite part of the process. The actual pureeing and then scooping out the glop and measuring it, then trying to put it in the bags without it getting all over me.
(So, yes, I dislike the part that is actually some WORK. True. Now you know that about me.)
But, now that its all said and done, I LOVE squash! There are lots of fun things one can do with it, and it features in my recipe I’m sharing today, which is wheat free, and dairy free.
This base recipe comes from an Indian cookbook, ‘Complete Book of Indian Cooking‘ by Suneeta Vaswani, but I have adapted it for my kitchen and my spice cabinet. It is a little more involved, but it is quite delicious, and so I think its well worth it!
Adapted Parsi Chicken Stew with Lentils and Vegetables
1 bag lentils
6 – 12 chicken thighs
2 cups pureed butternut squash, or other winter squash/pumpkin
1 chopped onion
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tsp salt, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 3/4 tsp. cloves, 3/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 inch gingerroot, peeled and minced
8 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp. oil
3 cups onions, sliced thinly
6 frozen tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes) (if using frozen, take out the night before, so they are pretty well thawed)
3 tbls cilantro (or 3 frozen cubes that you preserved during the summer)
splash of lemon juice
1. Combine the lentils, squash, onion, carrot and chicken in slowcooker in the morning, say, around 10 am. Turn on low. Add water until it reaches the top of the lentils. It doesn’t need to cover over all the chicken and veggies. Cook until you’re ready to prepare supper, or about 4-5 hours.
2. Put the 3 tbsp. oil in a flat saute pan, and flash-fry the combined spices above over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger. Reduce heat to medium and add sliced onions. Add tomatoes. Cover and simmer until hot and combined. Break apart tomato into chunks, if using frozen whole tomatoes.
3. Take chicken out of slow-cooker and put aside in dish, covering to keep warm.
4. Scoop cooked lentil and veggie mixture into food processor and puree in batches until chunky or smooth as you like it (you could also use a potato masher, or not mash at all). Add tomato/onion/spice mixture into the lentil/veggie mixture, and keep warm in slowcooker.
5. Add optional cilantro (thawed) and a splash of lemon juice when serving. Serve the chicken covered with the lentil puree, or separately, as you like.
*I wish I would have taken a picture of the final result! Trust me, it was good. Hub’band took some leftovers to work, and even emailed me to thank me for the meal, again. 😉