Gingery Squash and Lentils with Shallot Yogurt

SERVES: 6

Any squash will work here, though heartier versions like Kabocha, Delicata, and Red Kuri will withstand the time spent braising while holding their shape. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, the charred date topping may not be a necessary addition for you, but I really like the pop of sweetness. Charring them brings out what are almost toasted marshmallow-y flavors, which might sound weird, but really hit the spot. Do you!

Active Time: 40 Mins

Total Time: 1 hr

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Produce

  • 3 lbs kabocha or delicata squash
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 bunch cilantro

Pantry

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup Gochujang
  • 3 cups chicken or veg broth
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pickled ginger
  • 5 large Medjoul dates
  • ¾ cup black beluga or brown lentils

Dairy

  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt

1. Do some prep:

  • Cut a 3-pound kabocha squash in half through the root. Scoop out and discard any seeds, then cut the squash into 2” wedges.
  • Very firmly smash 8 cloves of garlic enough to expose its innards. Discard the skins.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together ¼ cup gochujang, 3 cups chicken stock, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ¼ cup pickled ginger, and 1 tsp salt.

2. Sear and simmer:

  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, and arrange the squash in a single layer (you may need to cook in 2 batches) Cook until deeply caramelized on both sides, flipping once, 4-6 minutes each side. Repeat until all squash is caramelized, transferring the squash to a plate as it's finished.
  • Add 5 dates (pits and all!) to the pot and cook until charred and crisp all over, turning once, about 90 seconds. Set those aside for later.
  • Add the garlic and gochujang liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the liquid simmers, stir in ¾ cup lentils. Return the squash to the pot, nestling it into the lentils. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to very low to maintain a simmer (check periodically to be sure it’s maintaining a gentle simmer) until the lentils are tender, 20-40 minutes depending on the variety. You may need to add a splash more of stock or water as needed to keep the lentils just submerged.

3. Meanwhile, make the shallot yog:

  • Finely chop the shallot and stir into 1 cup whole milk yogurt. Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

4. Finish:

  • Spoon the lentils and squash into serving bowls. Top each with some shallot yog and a big handful of cilantro leaves (you can chop them if you want!). Tear the dates, discarding their pits, and scatter them over each bowl.