Photo by Gracie Gower
With the drop in temperature comes the seasonal vegetables, such as the squash family, consisting of pumpkins, courgettes, marrow and a variety of ‘squash’ in all shapes and sizes. These are being harvested from our gardens and are readily available in markets and shops.
Squash is a versatile vegetable, packed with fibre and containing beta carotene and other carotenoids. The body is able to convert these into the active form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for cell growth, eye health and immune function.
There are a number of ‘squash’ available, the most common being butternut. This is lower in carbohydrate than potato, so it can make a tasty and nutritious alternative wherever you would usually use the common spud.
I experimented with some squash-growing and managed a small harvest of various sizes and colours! I have experimented with keeping the smaller squash whole, just cutting the top and removing the seeds. If the skin is soft, i.e. you can puncture it with your finger nail, then you can keep this on – simply give it a good scrub.
The following recipe uses a mini round squash, but you could just as easily use a butternut. Cut it in half length-wise, peel with a vegetable peeler moving from one end to the other. Remove the seeds and then bake, drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil until tender. You can then spoon the filling into the cavity, return to the oven for a further 20 minutes and then serve, with a leafy green side-salad.
- 1 whole small squash or half a butternut squash
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked brown lentils (you can use cooked Puy or Beluga lentils from a sachet if time is short)
- 2 small or 1 large courgette, peeled and chopped
- 1 red pepper, washed, seeded and chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon of dried chives
- 1 teaspoon of mild paprika
- 1 teaspoon of onion granules
- Black pepper
- Pinch of Lo-Salt or Himalayan pink salt
- Prepare the squash. Scrub or peel the skin, depending on how tough it is. Cut a large squash in half lenth-ways and remove the seeds. With a smaller round squash cut the top off, and scoop out the seeds.
- Place the prepared squash on a baking tray and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Bake in a medium oven for 3-40 minutes, or until squash is tender, and there is no resistance to an inserted knife.
- While the squash is cooking prepare the filling. Place courgette, pepper and onion in a pan with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until vegetables are tender. Take care not to boil the pan dry.
- When veg are soft, blend half of them with the remaining liquid to make a smooth sauce. Return to the pan with the remaining cooked vegetables
- Add seasoning and the onion granules, chives and paprika
- Stir the cooked lentils into the sauce.
- Once the squash is soft, spoon the sauce into the cavity. Return to the oven for 20 minutes and serve.