Sunday, November 14, 2010

THROWING IT ALL TOGETHER: WEEKEND HASH

Elaborate dinner plans were not in the offing tonight. We had an action packed day, which included taking small children to a Giants football game where a power outage occurred. By 8pm this evening, survival seemed like a noteworthy accomplishment, and I was particularly happy to have Weekend Hash on hand.

I inadvertently conceived Weekend Hash last week when a friend on Facebook posted a recipe for Lentils with Bacon (http://www.notakeout.com/lentils-with-bacon/). The recipe sounded so cozy that I decided to make it for Shabbat dinner on Friday. Never mind that bacon played a starring role. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a cultural chameleon, half-Jewish/half-Christian, which means I blend traditions at will. (I also, by the way, get a special dispensation from the Pope to eat bread on Easter. Makes sense to me!) Anyway, this dish yielded an extraordinary amount of lentils; far more than we could consume in one sitting. I stuffed the lentils into the fridge, briefly pondered their fate, and moved on.

After all, I had big cooking plans for Saturday. I was going to tackle Melissa Clark’s Vegetable Wellington (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/dining/10apperex.html) from last week’s New York Times. In this delectable recipe, you blend roasted butternut squash with mushrooms and goat cheese and wrap it all in puffed pastry. What could be bad? Nothing, except that I roasted way more butternut squash than the delicate puffed pastry could hold.

As I was scraping the remains of squash into yet another Tupperware container, I had an epiphany: Why not toss everything in my fridge together and call it Sunday dinner? Hardly a unique idea –I once saw an entire Malcolm in the Middle dedicated to a casserole of leftovers—but the combination of squash, lentils and goat cheese was, well, quite perfect. The earthy taste of lentils perfectly offset the sweetness of squash. Goat cheese blends it all together beautifully.

Weekend Hash may seem a bit labor intensive (it took me a whole weekend to get it together), but it’s the type of dish you could eat all week –on salads for lunch or as a side dish for dinner. Give it a shot, and let me know how you might tweak it. Who knows? Maybe, collectively, all of our weekend leftovers constitute the perfect meal.

WEEKEND HASH

Adapted from Melissa Clark’s New York Times Column, “A Good Appetite” and www.notakeout.com

Ingredients:

For Lentils:

  • 1 leek, trimmed and minced (save two cleaned outer leaves of leeks)
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley (cleaned and chopped finely)
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch scallions (trimmed an minced)
  • 1 lb. lentils (preferably green lentilles de Puy), picked through for stones and rinsed
  • Bay leaf
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt or kosher salt

For Roasted Squash:

  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lb of butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika or regular paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1 oz goat cheese

Directions

  • Wrap 5 parsley stems, 12 sprigs thyme, and 2 bay leaves inside the 2 leek leaves, and tie them with kitchen twine.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, sautee the leek for 3 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and the herbs tied in leek leaves and immediately cover with water.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are crisp-tender, which can take from 20-30 minutes.
  • While lentils cook, melt butter in very large over high heat.
  • Add the squash in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. (If squash won’t fit in a single layer, cook it in batches).
  • Stir and continue to cook until squash is golden, 7 to 10 minutes more. Stir in the syrup, thyme, paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook one minute. Scrape mixture into a bowl.
  • Put lentils and squash in fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Whisk 1 tbsp of olive oil into mustard and vinegar to make dressing. Set aside.
  • Once the squash and lentils have cooled, toss with dressing and goat cheese.

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