Fall is officially here with its cloudy mornings and cool breeze. Leaves are beginning to change color and take flight. Apples of every color and size are everywhere you look and beautiful pumpkins and pomegranates are spreading the fall hues in markets and displays.
I love fall, the colors, apples and clouds. The gentle breeze that teases you with the smell of rain. Watching kids go to school every morning, with their colorful backpacks , beaming with energy.
Pumpkins are indeed some of the most versatile ingredients. they are great in savory and sweet recipes alike. They work in salads, soups, desserts, appetizers and main meals. Added to that, pumpkin is a wonderful source of vitamin A and C, fiber and potassium. It is low in calories (unless you load it up with butter and sugar and pour it in a pie crust :))
Here in the middle east, pumpkins are a popular fall ingredient. They are used to make dips, soups, main dishes and kibbeh.What’s interesting is that many of the pumpkin recipes popular here are vegetarian, like the one I am sharing with you today. Over the next few weeks I will be posting a few pumpkin recipes, traditional middle eastern and globally inspired ones. If you happen to be a fan of these wonderful orange globes, do stay tuned :)
Pumpkin and lentils in a tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
700 gm (6 cups) (half of a medium pumpkin) pumpkin (peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes)
1 medium onion chopped
2 cups tomatoes peeled and chopped
2 cups lentils washed
5 cups water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon all spice
Saute the pumpkins in the olive oil until they are soft and slightly golden brown, take out of the pot, set aside
(traditionally, the chopped pumpkin is fried for a richer taste and firmer texture but I decided to saute it to make it a little healthier )
In the same pot, saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.
Add the lentils and chopped tomatoes and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, while stirring.
Add the water, reduce the heat and cook for 40 minutes or until the lentils are done (you can tell by tasting a few).
You may need to add more water depending on how much water your lentils will take up while cooking
Add the pumpkin,tomato paste, salt and all spice and cook for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with parsley, drizzle with a little lemon juice and serve with pita bread and olives.
Lentils cooking time varies with the brand of lentils. I usually soak the lentils for 15-30 minutes before cooking to reduce the cooking time.
The amount of water you add to the recipe depends on how you like the final consistency. I like it thick and serve it with pita bread. You can make it thinner and serve it with rice if you add more water