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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Food for Fall.

I have been inspired to eat, cook, listen to, and be surrounded by everything Moroccan. Paula Wolferts cookbook, "The Food of Morocco" has been my bible - and is the ONLY cookbook that I have used, and probably ever will. It's outstanding. Everything is a "hit". Last night I wanted to make something delicious for my Mom, but she said that she didn't care to eat any meat. I have a bunch of lentils, some leftover swiss chard from my afternoon soup, and butternut squash is in season, so I decided to create an adaptation of Wolferts "Lentils with Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Meat Confit". After I made my changes the recipe was quite different, but just as delicious. Here is my interpretation of dish:

Cailins Fall Lentils with Squash and Swiss Chard: (V, VG)


  • 1 cup French Lentils
  • 1 large onion 
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
  • 3 large Swiss chard leaves, tender ribs and leaves rolled and finely shredded crosswise
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • paprika (be generous)
  • cumin (be generous)
  • ground black pepper
  • cayenne pepper (be generous if you like heat, scant if you don't)
  • lemon juice
  • flat leaf parsley (fresh)
  • cilantro (fresh)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, prep your squash, then put squash into a roasting pan. Fill up the pan about 1inch with chicken broth, then sprinkle some paprika, cumin, cayenne, and black pepper on the squash. Cover with tin foil and cook til tender (about 20minutes??).

2. Rinse the lentils. Put one cup of lentils in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring to a full boil for 5 min. Drain the lentils.

3. In a deep skillet, sautee your onion in olive oil with the tomatoes and garlic. (side note: I cut the onion in half and did small half moon slivers. With garlic I NEVER chop it, but instead use a zester or grater so that the garlic becomes a paste almost and can melt into the sauce...otherwise you get a big bite of garlic, and thats nasty). Then sprinkle some paprika, cumin, cayenne, and black pepper into the pan. Cook and stir for about 5-10minutes.

4. Spread the lentils over the onions; place the Swiss chard (which has been sliced up) on top. Add about 2 cups of chicken broth (or beef or vegetable, chefs choice), and simmer on low heat for 20minutes. (side note: when you are simmering something, it means that there has to be a low boil to it. So make sure that its bubbling a little bit).

*I am using broth to cook it in, and I even drizzled extra virgin olive oil on top, because it needs some fat - which if you used the original recipe with meat confit it would have. So just be sure to pour a bit of EVOO on it and use broth instead of water.

5. Add the roasted squash to the lentils (taste test to make sure that the lentils are tender!!!).

6. Once in your bowl, add a generous amount of fresh cilantro and fresh flat leaf parsley to the dish -- these add a freshness and citrus to the dish that it needs. Also, it needs a bit of acidity, so squeeze 1/4 to a 1/2 of a lemon over the dish. It sounds odd, but it completes the dish.

The salad that I did was a simple french salad. Mixed greens, herbed goat cheese, pickled onions, salted pepitas and a simple vinagrette. To pickle the onions (which takes the gnarly ONION taste and bite away), you place the onions in a dish with a bit of fresh lemon juice. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Reserve the juice for your dressing but rinse the onions and squeeze them. The dressing was the reserved lemon juice, a splash of balsamic vinagarette, EVOO, and a touch of salt, agave nectar and tarragon. DELICIOUS.

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