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Autumn Carrots and Squash

Serve this over lentils, rice, millet or quinoa.  Below, I’ve used black lentils because the contrast is striking, and because I like lentils!  All you butternut squash lovers out there, I don’t begrudge you the squash, but I have a hard time finding time to peel and cut squash.  If I can’t buy it already peeled and cubed, I use yams instead, which are just as healthy but a little sweeter.  I cannot tell a lie.

Makes enough to feed four or 6-8 as a side dish

1 C black lentils 1 tsp paprika
2 ½ C water 2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt 6 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
¼ C extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)  1 tsp sea salt
2 medium onions, chopped 1 tsp black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced (don’t peel) 2 C water
1 pound peeled, seeded butternut squash, cubed Juice from one juicy lemon
2 tsp cumin seeds ½ C chopped fresh cilantro

Spread lentils on plate and check for stones (I often skip this, I have to admit).  Place lentils in a colander and rinse.  In a medium pot, combine water, lentils and sea salt.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover pot, and simmer 30 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large skillet, gently warm oil.  Add onions and sauté, stirring, until they begin to color, about 5 minutes.  Add carrots and squash and continue to sauté, another 5 minutes.  Then add the remaining ingredients, except the lemon juice and cilantro, lower heat and cover pot.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender and the liquid has been absorbed.

Coarsely mash carrots and squash right in the pot.  I use my mom’s old potato masher.  Add juice of lemon (more if you like things very lemony).  Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt or pepper.

Divide lentils between plates and spoon mashed carrot and squash stew on top.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.  Colors should pop and you’ll find this easy autumn meal also hits the spot.  I like to garnish with cashews or peanuts, but it also goes well with chicken, hamburger, or with a veggie burger.  You can drizzle more olive oil on top.  It’s up to you, Mesdames and Monsieurs.    

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