• clairhenderson

Harlequin Squash

Grown out in the Cambridge fenlands, these beauties have been brought to us, despite the fuel crisis, by the Bedlam Organic farm. They grow some amazing stuff, stuff that us in Britain should be eating more of! They grow many traditional vegetable varieties that grow naturally well in our soil and climate. Kohlrabi last week, was also one of theirs. and this week, the same farm brings us these gorgeous sturdy nutrition packed balls of joy.

Harlequin Squash, like any other squash are very versatile. They can be souped, mashed, cubed, diced, sauteed, boiled, steamed, roasted and more. They have a delicate flavour that can be enjoyed on it's own, or used as a good base to carry other flavours without causing offence. A chicken substitute, if you will.

But squashes have two particularly fabulous features. One is that they store for YONKS. So feel free to use yours in a tasteful autumnal display... it will be perfectly fine until it's time to get the elves out! The other is their pleasing shape, which can be hollowed out for any number of wonderful reasons. The first being the obvious pumpkin carving. But the second is STUFFING. And for me, this is the best way to cook and serve these wonders. You can try stuffing it with anything you fancy as long as it's reasonably moist. Left over bolognese, risotto, wonky veggies, whatever is going. But this week for me, it's DAHL!

I love dahl and need no excuse to bring some dahl to the table. Dahl is a wonder. Made from accessible, transportable, and storable pulses, they open up a world of protein rich cuisine that is sustainable, healthy and easy on the budget. Many loud exponents of curries talk about meat based dishes. But a dahl is absolutely not to be underestimated. A mild mix of pulses (usually lentils) alongside tomatoes, onions and spices, this dish can be custom made to sweetness and heat for any palate. It's great on it's own or with naan. But it's also a dish that can be played with, added to other things, enjoyed in fusion dishes. This recipe makes more than you need, so I look forward to hearing what you do with the rest!

I have used black lentils as I think they're pretty sexy. But you can use any you like. I'm told the secret to any good dahl is to soak and cook the lentils in advance so that they are fall-apart-on-your-fork good.

300g black lentils - cooked and drained

3 tbsps oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste (or 1 grated garlic clove and 1inch grated ginger)

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

1 can chopped tomatoes

1) Thoroughly wash the squash. Like jacket potatoes, eating the skin is down to your own preference. It holds lots of extra fibre, so I'm a definite YES girl!

2) Slice off the bottom of the squash to create a flat surface on which it can stand. Slice the top off and scoop out all of the seeds. Preheat your oven to 180C.

3) Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onions until they begin to go transparent. Add in the garlic and ginger. allow to sizzle for 30 seconds.

4) Add in the spices and salt and stir until your kitchen smells amazing. Stir in the tomatoes, and finally the lentils and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

5) Pop the hollow squash on an ovenproof tray and fill with the dahl. It's good to make it stuffed full, with a little popping out of the top as it will cook down.

6) Bake in the oven for around 50-60minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Like potatoes, when a fork slides into the flesh easily, it's done!

Serve with naan, maybe some raita and some Tiger Beer, of course!

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