(Serves 6 to 8)
1 large butternut squash
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 1⁄2 oz. green lentils
2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
Leaves of 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Leaves of 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pinches ground nutmeg
1 c. vegetable broth
3 1⁄2 oz. baby spinach
1 handful chopped roasted pistachios
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until the flesh is very tender.
3. Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a saucepan over low heat and cook the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until softened. Add the lentils, porcini mushrooms, nutmeg, rosemary, and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Pour in the broth and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. If needed, add a little water during cooking.
4. Stir in the spinach and pistachios, then remove from the heat.
5. Remove the cooked squash from the oven. Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1⁄2-inch layer to avoid piercing the skin and help the squash halves hold their shape. Mash the flesh to a purée, then stir in the lentil mixture.
6. Fill the squash halves with the stuffing. Carefully reshape the squash by placing one half on top of the other. Tie up with kitchen twine at 1 1⁄4-inch intervals. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes, until heated through. Cut into thick slices and serve.
Advice from the Chef
“Serve the squash with a tasty salad. For a non-vegetarian stuffing, add chopped smoked bacon or a little sausage meat to the pan when frying the onion and garlic.”