Meat Free Mondays – Acorn Squash Cakes and Curried Lentils

This recipe started out as something completely different, but I’m happy with the way the end product turned out.

Originally I planned to make curried acorn squash with lentils. But I accidentlaly let the acorn squash bake too long, so they were too soft to cut into little cubes. I had no choice but to scoop it out of the shell.

So there I was at a crossroads. I still wanted to cook lentils but now the acorn squash was basically just a paste. That’s when I decided to make them into acorn squash cakes.

I happened to have a mixture of diced tomatoes, spinach, onions and broccoli left over from last week’s quiche recipe, so I folded that into the acorn squash. But it was still too damp to form into patties that I could pan fry.

So I added some bread crumbs. Uh-oh, too crumbly. So I added an egg. Finally, just the right texture to form into little patties that I could hold together long enough to get them into the cast iron pan, but still sort of soggy.

I used a spatula to shape them as best I could, then carefully flipped them once when they formed a nice brown crust on the bottom then into the oven they went to finish. I figured if I just let them bake long enough, most of the moisture would evaporate and what would remain would be nice tasty cakes that would hold together just fine.

I’m glad to report that it worked out great. Having overcooked them in the oven, the bottom of the cake was a nice, dark brown. So that’s the side that was flipped to face up!

Curried lentils are my favorite and these ones turned out just right. They are so simple to make and so delicious to eat, I could have them every week for our vegetarian meal but Monday’s blog would get kind of boring after awhile.

Acorn Squash Cakes and Curried Lentils

For Acorn Squash Cakes

2 small acorn squash

1/4 cup spinach

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup diced tomato, seeds and ribs removed

1/4 cup broccoli florets

1 egg

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste


For Curried Lentils

1 cup lentils

1/2 onion, medium dice

2 celery stalks, leaves included, medium dice

3 carrots, medium dice

3 to 4 white button mushrooms, rough chop

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 tsp curry powder

2-1/2 cups water

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut acorn squash in half and use an ice cream scoop to remove seeds and strings. Place on sheet pan, meat side down, and spray skins with pan spray. Bake about 1 hour or until soft. Cool.

2. Scoop out acorn squash meat and combine in mixing bowl with spinach, broccoli, onion, tomato, egg and bread crumbs and mix into a paste. Use your hands to form into little cakes the size of hockey pucks and set aside.

3. Put cast iron pan on fire. When hot, add EVOO. When smoking, place cakes into pan being careful not to splash yourself with hot oil. When bottom of cake is nicely browned, carefully flip cakes over and saute another minute or two, then put entire pan in the oven until finished, about 25 minutes.

4. Put pan on fire. When hot, add EVOO. When smoking, add onions, carrots, mushrooms and celery and cook until onions translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic, lentils, curry powder and bay leaf and stir for about a minute, then add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. To plate, place acorn squash patties in the center of the plate, then use a slotted spoon to drape curried lentils so they are flowing down the side. Garnish with parsley sprig.

I served this with that excellent whole wheat bread they sell at Panera. Man, I love that bread!

Have you ever snatched a victory from the jaws of kitchen disaster? Share your story in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!