It's amazing how little it takes to make lentil butternut squash and ham stew.
My Saturday walk brought me to my local produce market. I picked up a butternut squash, it being Fall and all, and grabbed a few other things. On my way back home, I stopped off at the butcher shop where I spotted this lovely ham hock (see above). As I walked home, I wondered what I might make with the squash, when I recalled the lentils in my cupboard.
I'm not generally a fan of lentils, but I had a big bag of them in the cupboard waiting to be made into something, anything actually, since in general, I'm not a huge lentil fan. I do really like lentils in Indian food, but had yet to find a way that I enjoyed eating them in a home cooked meal.
When I opened the cabinet to get the lentils out, a bag of curry powder fell onto the countertop. I figured this was a sign of some sort and so, I proceeded to build a dish around the lentils, curry powder and ham hock. The ham hock and beans made me think of my favorite soup, split pea with ham, so I also grabbed some nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon to round out the spices for the recipe.
Roasting the squash with the shallots for awhile, before adding the par-boiled lentils and ham hock, softened it just enough to allow some caramelization to begin, before the stewing began.
I've always wanted to try walnuts with squash, so figured it being a time of experimentation, why not do it now? The walnuts kept their crunch and the flavor combination was great.
A combination of slow and low cooking time, and the blend of warm, earthy spices make this stew perfect for the shorter and cooler days that are upon us.
Lentil Butternut Squash Walnut and Ham Stew
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
- 2 shallots, peeled and minced
- 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup lentils, cooked until soft, 20 minutes in water
- 1 ham hock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, or 10 whole cloves
- Place the butternut squash, shallots, curry powder and olive oil in a heavy ovenproof pan and mix to coat all the squash pieces with oil and spices.
- Cook in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes, until the squash begins to soften.
- While the squash cooks, heat a pot on high heat, add the ham hock and brown on all sides.
- Add the cooked lentils to the ham hock, with enough water to cover halfway up the hock.
- Remove the squash from the oven, add the squash to the lentils and ham hock and stir in the walnuts.
- Add enough water to cover the mixture in the pot and place in the oven, covering the pot halfway with a lid.
- Cook for 20 minutes, stir, return to the oven and cook another 20 minutes.
- The stew is done when there is a slight film over the top of the beans, showing some glossiness, but with a bit of liquid left in the pot.