You guys really seemed to like the Green Couscous Platter I made last year for the holidays, so I came up with another one this year that I think you'll love just as much. It makes a particularly stunning meat-free centerpiece, and is another crowd-pleasing, all-in-one way to serve a meal.
Here are the highlights: a creamy chive hazelnut pesto; sweet, chewy dried cranberries; salty feta; quick-pickled onions; al dente peppery lentils; and buttery, roasted butternut squash boats.
If I'm honest, sometimes I avoid using butternut squash because it takes time to break down. But this recipe solves that dilemma because there's no peeling involved and only four slices required (well, technically six if you count slicing off the ends). The squash is quartered and roasted and served with the skin on for ease and presentation.
Whether you're serving this for a holiday meal or otherwise, you can make the pickled onions and/or pesto in advance. You might remember the pickled onions from this Beet & Cherry Quinoa platter. Their unique sweet-tart crunch is a bright addition to anything from tacos, salads, a Mexican casserole, and platters. I love keeping a jar in the fridge for quick topping. But the best thing is you can whip up a new batch in just 10 minutes if you don't have any on hand.
Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash with Chive Hazelnut Pesto
Notes: When you're at the market, grab the shortest and widest squash you can find in the pile. It should have a fat base and short neck because once quartered, the base of each quarter should be deep and wide enough to hold lentils.
- 1 short & fat butternut squash
- 1 cup (218 gr) black (or green) lentils
- Chive Hazelnut Pesto (recipe below)
- Handful dried cranberries
- Quick pickled onions
- Feta, crumbled (vegans: replace with dairy-free, salted yogurt)
- Preheat oven to 250 C/ 425 F
- Slice ends off squash. Halve squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds, then halve lengthwise again. Place quartered squash on a lined baking tray, cut side down. Roast for 40 minutes, or until squash is just tender when pierced with a knife.
- In the meantime, rinse lentils and cook in boiling water for 20 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and place back into pot. (Cooking time will be shorter if lentils were pre-soaked.) Make pesto and pickled onions, if not made in advance.
- Mix 3/4 of pesto with lentils, cranberries, a squeeze of lemon (using reserved second half from pesto), generous pinch of salt, pepper, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Arrange squash quarters on a platter, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Spoon lentils in and around squash. Top with reserved toasted hazelnuts, crumbled feta, pickled onions, and dollops of remaining pesto.
Chive Hazelnut Pesto
- 1/3 cup (50 gr) toasted hazelnuts (+ more for topping dish)
- 20 gr. chives, roughly chopped
- 20 gr. basil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve other half for lentils)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 6 Tbsp. (1/3 cup or 80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup or 60 ml) water
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Combine all ingredients in a small food processor. Blend until smooth and thick. Adjust seasoning to taste.