This holiday season, I’ve graduated to a new level of family participation: I have officially contributed a dish to the Hanko Thanksgiving table. I will admit, I was nervous setting my serving bowl on the counter, squeezing it between the seasonal favorites like Aunt Carol’s sweet potatoes and Uncle Mark’s calico corn. Adding to the nerves was the fact that this recipe is pretty much a Sprout original, borne out of the need for a protein-substitute to turkey and a hankering for butternut squash. Yet by the time the last plate was scraped clean and the post-meal coffee began to percolate, the butterflies in my stomach had been replaced by Thanksgiving fullness. I’m happy to report the dish was received with enthusiasm. Who knows? It may even find a perennial place at the table.
lentil, squash & apple melange
2 small butternut squash, diced
4 apples, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 (generous) teaspoon sage
salt and pepper
2 cups lentils, cooked
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
Preheat oven to 425F. Cook those lentils.
Chop your squash and apples into attractive, asymmetrical chunks. Mix together in a large bowl.
Add olive oil, syrup, and spices. Toss until well-coated. Spread mixture onto a large roasting pan. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until squash is soft and starting to brown.
Transfer roasted squash and apples into a large serving bowl (the more rustic-looking, the better). Add lentils.
Chop up your mint and walnuts and throw into the bowl along with the feta. This is where you should feel free to be creative. If chopped red onion sounds tasty, throw it in. If a little sweetness in the form of a dried cranberry or two appeals, go for it. I like to think of the squash, apple and lentil mixture as a base, a blank canvas from which you can experiment.
You may want to put the whole mixture in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes more, to brown the feta. Serve hot and happily!
As a side thought, Thanksgiving has got to be one the very best holidays.
Pictured immediately above is my nonagenarian great aunt Anne, who has more spunk than many of the twenty-somethings I see on campus. Unfazed by the unorthodox nature of the recipe, Auntie Anne bravely took home the leftovers of the lentil melange. For that kind of spirit, I give thanks.