There are some beautiful types of squash available at this time of year. Autumn and winter bring squash with harder skins and well-developed sweet and nutty flavours as a consequence of the late summer sunshine. Their hard skins mean they keep well too so don’t be afraid to stock up – they can be used to make a whole assortment of delicious plant-based meals, including soups, stews, salads and puddings, or can be enjoyed just simply roasted with some herbs and spices.
This super-easy and filling bake is just one way to take advantage of this versatile veg – it will feed a big party and warm you up on a cold day. Red lentils are a great low-fat, inexpensive source of protein that are also rich in iron, and the tomatoes contain a high source of vitamin C which will increase the amount of iron you absorb from the lentils. It is often more difficult to absorb iron from plant-based sources therefore this is a fantastic combination. I like to roast fresh tomatoes to avoid any additional sugar content but a tin of chopped tomatoes will work just fine.
I recommend serving this bake with lightly fried broccoli for an additional boost of iron and vitamin C to help keep you energised during the colder months.
Squash, Lentil and Sweet Potato Bake
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Approx. cost per head: £1
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 400g squash, roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 red onions, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 400g roasted tomatoes (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
- 400g red lentils, rinsed thoroughly
- 750ml veg stock
- 1kg sweet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into chunks
- 2cm grated fresh ginger
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Toasted squash seeds (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan and gently cook the squash, celery, onion and garlic until softened (around 10 mins).
- Meanwhile put the sweet potatoes on to boil.
- Once the veg has softened, stir in the herbs and spices and cook for a few more minutes before adding the tomatoes, lentils and just enough stock to cover. Season as required. Simmer for around 15 mins until the lentils are just done and the liquid has reduced.
- Transfer the veg to an oven-proof dish. To make the topping, mash the cooked sweet potatoes with the ginger, lemon zest and juice, and a little salt and pepper.
- Once you have assembled the bake it can go in the oven for around 20-25 minutes to deepen the flavours. You may also want to top your bake with toasted squash seeds or maple roasted pecans!