Looking for a tasty main course or side dish to share with friends? Not only can this basic recipe be easily adapted to use whatever vegetables you have, it’s also nut-free, gluten-free, soy-free and vegan.  This meal keeps well and reheats nicely. Make a batch on Monday night and have healthy, homemade lunches all week. (Note that because squash is quite hard, you will need a good sharp knife for this recipe.)

Level: Advanced

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Servings: About 8

1 acorn squash
1 1/2 sweet potatoes
1 ½ carrots
5 cloves garlic
½ large onion
¼ red bell pepper
1 ½ cups rice
1 cup lentils
1 can beans (I had a mix of navy and lentil)
Approximately 4 cups water

Black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
2. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds.
If you want, set aside the seeds for roasting.
3. Cut the squash into crescent-shaped sections, and cut those sections in half.
4. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into small cubes.

Photo by Rachel Cali and Sarah Cali

5. Peel the carrots and shave them into strips or slice them thinly.
6. Slice the garlic and onion.
7. Chop the red pepper into small cubes.
8. Lightly oil a large baking dish.
9. Drain and rinse the beans.
10. Combine the lentils, rice, and beans in the dish and mix.
11. Add the rest of the vegetables except the squash.
12. Sprinkle the spices over the vegetables to taste.  We used primarily cumin, with very little salt.
13. Pour in just enough water to cover the mixture.
14. Add the squash around the edges.
(This looks nice and saves the time of having to peel it.)

Photo by Rachel Cali and Sarah Cali

15. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake for 1 hour at 425˚F.
16. Remove the casserole and stir every 20 minutes. When the rice and lentils have fully absorbed the water and the vegetables are soft, the casserole is done.
17. Let cool slightly and serve. If you eat cheese, this casserole goes well with a little cheese on top.

Photo by Rachel Cali and Sarah Cali