80g puy or green lentils
1 bay leaf
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes
150ml hot stock
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Red wine vinegar
1 Put the lentils in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold, unsalted water and add the bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently until just cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a heavy bottomed pan, and gently soften the shallots over a low heat. Once soft but not coloured, add the cubed squash, and cook, stirring often, for a couple of minutes.
3 Add the stock and thyme, bring the contents of the saucepan to the boil, then turn the heat right down and cook on a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes. Check the squash – if it’s still hard in the middle then carry on cooking, testing every minute or so. Squash cooks quite quickly and can easily turn to mush if you don’t keep an eye on it.
4 Once the squash is nicely soft all the way through, but not falling apart, add the cooked lentils and a splash of red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the tartness of the vinegar is too strong for you, add a scant teaspoon of sugar, preferably soft brown sugar – but I find the sweetness of the squash is usually enough to balance the vinegar. Gently mix everything together and serve.
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