Anti-Inflammatory Butternut Squash and French Lentil Stew
This hearty and flavorful stew highlights squash and fast-cooking french lentils. It’s spiced with Ras el Hanout, a North African and Moroccan spice blend that means “head of the shop”. Ras el hanout is packed with anti-inflammatory agents, like ginger, turmeric and black peppercorn and delivers additional warmth with paprika, cinnamon and cayenne. Plant-based and lowcarb, this stew is thickened with tahini, the middle eastern staple made from ground sesame seeds. A bright finish of crisp spinach leaves and lemon juice give you everything you’re craving in one pot and under 40 minutes.
Makes: 5-6 cups, serves 6-8
What you need:
½ cup french lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons grated ginger root
2 - 3 teaspoons ras el hanout spice (purchased or see my recipe to make your own)
2 tablespoons tahini
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 medium butternut squash, ¼ inch cubes
3 carrots, ¼ inch thick half moons
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch of spinach, about 2 cups leaves, torn
Freshly cracked black pepper
What you do:
Rinse the lentils and soak in a bowl of hot tap water for about 10 minutes (or until it is time to add them to the stew).
Heat olive oil in a soup pot on medium high heat. Add the onion and a few pinches of salt. Sauté until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger and a pinch of salt. Sauté about 1 minute longer.
Whisk in the spice mixture and sauté 30 seconds longer.
Stir in the tahini, and then gradually whisk in the stock in a slow steady stream, allowing it to thicken before adding more.
Strain the lentils and add them to the pot with the remaining salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer gently about 20 minutes.
Add the butternut squash and carrots and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes or until lentils, squash and carrots are tender.
Taste and season the soup with lemon juice. Add the torn spinach leaves, stir and heat just a minute or two until they wilt. Serve with additional lemon juice and fresh cracked black pepper, if desired.