The last week of February, I bought a butternut squash, but it didn’t end up in my menu planning for that week. I put it into the next week, and wanted to do something new and fun with it. Fortunately, Nat and I had recently purchased a Persian cookbook, Persian Cooking, by Nesta Ramazani. It was the first place I checked for things to do with my squash, and I found ghalieh-ya kadoo, translated as “lentil-squash casserole”, right away.
The recipe said “serves 5″, and called for two large butternut squashes. There are only 2 of us, and I only had 1 squash, so I halved the recipe. It still seemed suspiciously large, but I figured that if there were leftovers, I’d sort that out later.
The halved recipe turned out to make 6 side servings, easily, but for company or seconds, I would say it serves 4.
Modified from Persian Cooking, by Nesta Ramazani, p. 88
- 1 1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed & picked over
- 1 medium butternut squash, scooped out, peeled, and cubed
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- salt & black pepper, to taste
Heat your pan to somewhere between what you’d use for a sweat, and what you’d use for a sautee. Melt the butter in it, then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a beautiful golden-brown. Remove about a third of the onions and set aside.
Add the lentils and enough water to cover them; simmer until tender (red lentils cook fairly quickly — about 20 minutes), and then add the squash and simmer until those are tender (about another 20 minutes). You may need to add a little bit more water. Stir in the lemon juice and the salt & black pepper to taste.
Serve with the reserved onions on top.
To go with the dish, I made a small rack of lamb, rubbed with lemon zest and black pepper, and served the lamb sliced and fanned over a pillow of the lentils.
Now, of course, I had 4 servings left over, so I needed to figure out what to do with them. Back to the cookbook I went, and flipped through the many stews. I didn’t want to go out and buy anything, but luckily I do keep a fair amount of supplies from Salim’s Middle Eastern Foods around, so I figured I’d be able to find something.
Indeed, a recipe for khoresht-e fesanjan (“Chicken (or Lamb) in Pomegranate Sauce”) caught my eye. The original recipe says it is traditional to make this with duck or pheasant, but that it can also be made with chicken, lamb, or ground beef meatballs. Lamb, I had!
It called for walnuts, which…actually, I was out of. Pomegranate molasses? Sure thing. Walnuts, not so much.
I am, however, unafraid of substitution, and I did have almonds….
I also usually do not have beef broth around, but I’d made a rib roast the previous week and turned the leftovers into stock, so I was all set!
Sort-of khoresht-e fesenjan
Modified from Persian Cooking, by Nesta Ramazani, p. 139-140
Serves 2 greedy people who don’t want to share with anyone!
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 tbsp butter, plus a little
- approx. 1 lb lamb stew meat (we get our meat from a local farm, and they don’t label, so…), in 1″ cubes
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 2-3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tbsp sugar
- pinch saffron (or tumeric if you don’t have saffron)
- pinch ground cinnamon
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt & black pepper to taste
Heat your pan to somewhere between what you’d use for a sweat, and what you’d use for a sautee. Melt the butter in it, then add the onions. When onions are golden brown, remove from the pan. Brown lamb in the pan, adding more butter if necessary. When lamb is browned, add onions back in, along with the beef stock. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together the water and almonds in a saucepan over low heat. Add the pomegranate molasses and sugar and stir well; bring to a very gentle simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and cover.
When the lamb has simmered for 30 min, add the pomegranate sauce, spices, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not burn. At the end of this time, the sauce should be thick and glossy and intensely flavored. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper (or with sugar or pomegranate molasses if it is too sour or sweet for you).
The lamb was fork-tender by this point, and the sauce over the ghalieh-ya kadoo was heavenly. Next time, I’m going to have to make a larger batch, and freeze it for lunches!
And after all that, I still have two servings of ghalieh-ya kadoo left. What to do…