Good things are happening in my neck of the woods: the weather has hit 65 degrees for more than two days in a row and winter squash are finally reasonably priced at the store. To celebrate, I decided to take advantage of the squash deals and made myself a big pot of hearty, warming butternut squash, lentil stew with swiss chard and doppelbock. I originally sent out to make soup, but I went a little crazy with the butternut squash and the end result was a much thicker product. I had a brief moment of doubt and considered adding some water or more broth to the pot, but resisted after tasting it. It was great as is and went well with toast, rice, crackers, etc., so stew was born. Plus I was getting really hungry and didn’t want to wait any longer to eat.
When composing this recipe, I thought a lot about the flavor I wanted to get out of the squash. Butternut squash dishes can run the gamut from really sweet to super savory. I was looking for something in-between, which an edge toward the savory side. Onions and red peppers add a touch of sweetness and great flavor, while the cumin and paprika add some smokiness and nice spice. I like my stews/soups with texture, so lentils and sautéed swiss chard were thrown in for a boost of protein and greens. All the flavors and textures came together really nicely and hit the mark on the flavor profile I was looking for.
When choosing the beer, I immediately decided I wanted something very malty with almost no bitter qualities, and only a touch of sweetness. My goal with adding the beer was to add some body and excitement to the dish, but not overwhelm it with bitterness from hops or strong flavors. I immediately thought about German beers and settled of some sort of Dunkel as my top choice and Doppelbock as a backup. Theses beers have incredibly high malt profiles with virtually no bitter qualities. They also have the touch of sweetness and light roasty qualities I wanted. Unfortunately when I got to the store, my selection was pretty small, so I went with the only option available, which was a Doppelbock. Glad I had a back-up plan (it’s always a good idea when planning a recipe or pairing to have a few options in case the store doesn’t have what you want).
Once your ingredients are prepped, this comes together quickly and everything can be done in one pot, which is a huge plus for me. Getting the squash peeled and cut is the worst part of this recipe, so if you are strained for time or just feeling lazy, I would recommend buying pre-prepped squash. Other than that, this is pretty easy and makes a big pot of really lovely stew. I like to serve this a few ways. Scooped over brown rice with some arugula and goat cheese is a classy way to serve it, or you can simply throw some toast on the side and have a simple, but great meal. Despite how warm or cold it is where you are right now, I hope you find this stew to be as comforting and filling as I did.
Doppelbock Butternut Squash Stew with Lentils and Swiss Chard
What you need:
- 5 cups butternut squash (about 1 medium squash), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ tablespoon paprika, plus more for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon coriander, plus more for seasoning
- 1 bunch swiss chard or another hearty green, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons shallots, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 2.5 cups beer, a Doppelbock or Dunkel will do nicely
- 1.5 cup vegetable broth
- 1.5 cup lentils
What you do:
Start by pre-heating your oven to 375 degrees and prepping the squash (or opening the bag of your pre-prepped squash if using). To do this, peel the squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut into 1 inch cubes. A vegetable peeler does a nice job of peeling the squash. Put the diced squash in a bowl and toss with 1.5 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon of cumin, ½ tablespoon paprika, salt, and pepper. Throw the seasoned squash on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until it is soft and starts to brown. Toss the squash a few times while it is roasting to make sure it gets an even cook.
While the squash is in the oven, prep the rest of your vegetables and sauté your chard. To do this, heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat (you will use this pot for everything, so it needs to be big enough to hold the final product) and add 3 tablespoons of shallots. Cook the shallots for about 3 minutes until they are starting to brown. Add your chopped greens along with some salt and pepper. Sauté for about 2 more minutes, just until the greens are wilted. Remove them from the pot and set them aside for later.
Next, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the same pot and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add your onion and let it cook for 5-10 minutes until it becomes translucent and just browning. Then, add the peppers and cook until they are soft, about another 5 minutes. At this point, your squash should be pretty close to being done. If not, turn the heat off the pot and wait until it is ready. Once the squash is ready, add it to the pot with the onions and pepper. Season with salt, pepper, coriander and paprika. Use a generous sprinkle of all of these to get good flavor built up. Mix everything up, and then add the beer and broth.
Turn your heat up to high and allow the mixture to come to a boil for about 4 minutes. Turn the heat off and puree the mixture until smooth with an immersion blender or regular blender (be careful if using a regular blender!). Then, turn the heat back on to low and add your lentils. Cover your pot and allow everything to simmer for 25 – 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, you are just waiting on the lentils to become soft. Once your lentils are cooked, add the sautéed chard to the pot, give it a good mix, and serve!