For those who have just learned they are hosting a vegetarian this Christmas, here is an option for a turkey-alternative that’s slightly less work than a Nut Wellington. (Though bear in mind also the option of the brie and cranberry quiche.)
This is delicious with some cranberry sauce, whether at a Christmas occasion or just a nice normal dinner. To make it really schmanzy, tie the squash up with ribbons and carve as a centrepiece.
(serves 2 (if normal dinner) or 4 (with all the usual Christmas trimmings)
1 large butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
100g lentils (puy or otherwise)
100g fresh cranberries (or homemade cranberry sauce)
2 stalks fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 stalks fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
150ml red wine
200ml vegetable stock
80g fresh spinach, finely chopped
50g pistachios, roughly chopped
- Slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush or spray with a little oil, then bake for 30-40 minutes at 180oC until the flesh is tender enough to scoop out with a spoon. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until softened.
- Add the lentils, cranberries, herbs, nutmeg, wine, and stock. Bring to the boil, then cover and lower to a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
- Scoop out the flesh of the butternut squash, being careful not to tear the skin. Add to the pan of lentils and mash into the mixture. Season.
- Stir in the spinach and pistachios, then spoon into both halves of the squash. Place one half on top of the other, then tie with string every 3-4 centimetres.
- Bake for a further 10-15 minutes at 180oC.