This is a wholesome and hearty vegetarian dish that you can make as a main and doesn’t require much else by way of accompaniments. Butternuts roasted are the best as they are sweet, luscious and warming. I used Manchego cheese for this recipe but you can use Gruyere or any other sweet cheese that melts well.
I’ve made the dish using two medium sized butternut pumpkins but you can scale it up or down. By the way, any leftover lentils are yummy on their own or on toast!
For the butternut pumpkins:
2 medium sized butternut pumpkins weighing about 700g each
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
For the Puy lentils:
300g Puy lentils, rinsed well
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
100g onion, finely diced
1 stick celery, peeled and finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
3-4 sprigs of thyme
120g Manchego cheese, grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste
50ml dry white wine
600ml vegetable stock
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Cut the butternuts lengthwise along the centre. Scoop out the pith and seeds. Rub vegetable oil all over the flesh and skin of the butternut. Sprinkle salt evenly. Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay the pieces face down. Roast for 30-40 minutes. Turn the pieces over so you can roast them face up for a further 20-30 minutes. At the end of cooking the flesh should be soft, almost golden brown and well cooked.
While the pumpkin is roasting, prepare the lentils. In a deep saucepan, heat the oil and butter. When the butter is fully melted and fragrant, fry the onions, celery, and carrot along with thyme sprigs. After frying for five minutes, add the garlic, chilli flakes and tomato paste. Sauté for a few minutes before adding the lentils. Stir, so that all the lentils are well coated with the onion mixture. Now pour in the wine and increase heat for a few minutes until all the liquid has almost evaporated. Pour in the vegetable stock and cook for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while. Taste to check seasoning and doneness of lentils. Season with salt and pepper. Fish out and discard the thyme sprigs.
Remove the pumpkins from the oven. Pile the Puy lentils onto each of the pumpkin pieces. Sprinkle the cheese and place under hot grill for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 as a main course.