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Armenian Ragout Of Lentils, Squash and Apricots

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash
3/4 cup green lentils
1 cup vegetable stock -- plus more if needed
1 onion -- chopped
2 cloves garlic -- finely minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried apricots -- cut into quarters & soaked in hot water
1 cup diced plum tomatoes -- optional
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
chopped parsley


PREHEAT the oven to 375 degrees.

BAKE the butternut squash for 45 to 50 minutes, until tender but firm. When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the peel, discard the seeds, and cut the flesh into 1/2" chunks. Or you may peel the squash, cut it into 1/2-inch chunks, and poach them in water or vegetable stock until firm-tender. Drain and set aside.

COVER the lentils with cold water and bring up to a boil. Simmer until firm-tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Keep testing as the cooking time for lentils can vary greatly depending on their age. When the lentils are cooked through, drain them well and set them aside. BRING the vegetable stock to a boil and add the onion. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, until tender and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and simmer for a few minutes. Add the dried apricots with some of their soaking liquid, the reserved lentils and squash, and the optional tomatoes; simmer to combine flavours for about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. If the ragout seems too dry, add more apricot liquid or vegetable stock. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with rice.


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