Let's get this straight. As much as I love the whole 'Sunday Lunch / Christmas Dinner/ Mums Roast' idea, the fact is, as a vegetarian/ not quite vegan, I don't want to be fobbed off with yet another dry & boring nut roast with watery 'vegetarian' gravy over it. Or a plate of veggies with some meat gravy poured over it. 'But it's not meat luv, it's just gravy' (seriously?! This has happened to me. I was not best pleased)
As a veggie type person, what you DO want at the Sunday R0ast/Christmas Dinner isn't just all the sides with a sad vegan sausage or a bit of nut roast afterthought , you want a flavourful, umami rich something that is as much the main event as the meat that is ceremoniously brought to the table, hopefully with a bit of a nutty/bean/legume type protein hit to boot. And if you are lucky enough to be catering to ALL vegetarian/vegans you want a dish that seriously impresses.
As a bit of a veggie enthuisiast cook, I always hope that the meat eaters also drool and want some too, it's my way of chipping away at the veggie doubters & sneakily converting them. In my experience they will want some and they will likely enjoy it as much as the meat (pat yourself on the back here... ) Don't be scared to make extra, it will get eaten. And obviously what you SHOULD do is feed the veggies first, that way you'll avoid hangry veggie people. No one wants a hangry at the table.
I like the idea of stuffed squash, it looks festive, the savoury lentils complement the sweet flesh of the roasted squash. You can either make the recipe below with mini acorn squash for individual portions, or use larger ones & cook them a bit longer, to ceremoniously bring to the table & 'carve' into slices to serve. I also wanted to give a little hint of festive spices so have added the tinyest hint of cinnamon & ginger as well as a slight kick of chilli into the lentils. The flavours permeate into the squashes flesh too, lifting it to another level.
Served with traditional sides, or modern takes on them, this vegan dish is as spectacular, delish & filling as any roast out there.
- Either 1 small squash per person , or 2 larger squashes.
- 1 pack pre-cooked lentils - or 250g cooked lentils
- 1 large onion , finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 small chilli , minced
- ⅓ cup breadcrumbs
- 150 grams pinenuts
- 6-7 sage leaves
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mild chilli powder
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- 1 Tbs liquid aminos or soy sauce
- ⅓ cup white wine
- 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbs fresh parsley , finely chopped
- salt & pepper
- tsp Marigold stock powder
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Take the top off the squashes by cutting around the stem through to the cavity inside.
- Scoop out the seeds.
- Slick the outside with olive oil & season the inside with salt & pepper and place on a tray ready to stuff.
- Preheat your oven to 250C/ Gas mark 7.
- Now, make the stuffing
- Sweat the onion & garlic in a saucepan until translucent, then add the chilli.
- Add the bay leaf, herbs & spices, stock powder, lentils & wine and cook down for 5-10 mins.
- Remove the bay leaf and stir in the bread crumbs
- Squish the mixture into the squash cavities & put the whole lot into the oven (including the squash tops!)
- Bake for between ½ hour to 45 mins- timing will debend on how big the squash is. For larger squash you might want to cover in foil to speed the cooking & prevent the outside from burning, taking it off 10 mins before the end to give colour to the skin.
- It will be ready when the outside is coloured, and you can easily slide a skewer or knife all the way through.