Moroccan lentil and butternut pie

I’ve had a craving for Moroccan-spiced food recently. It probably has something to do with this wintry weather in Cape Town. Moroccan spices are deliciously warming and fragrant – perfect for autumnal suppers. I made up this pie recipe on the hop, and (if I do say so myself) it’s rather good. I served it with crispy sweet potato wedges sprinkled with chilli flakes.

moroccan lentil and butternut pie

Serves 8

500g peeled butternut, cut into small cubes
400g courgettes, grated
100g spinach
2 tins of brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2 free-range eggs
200g feta, crumbled
2 T toasted pine nuts
2 T slivered almonds
2 T each of chopped flat-leaf parsley and coriander
20 raisins
1 onion, finely chopped
2 dried apricots, finely chopped
2 heaped tsp harissa paste
1 tsp crushed garlic
Whole cumin seeds, paprika and whole coriander seeds
1 tsp honey
250g filo pastry
Melted butter

Heat the oven to 180 C. Put the butternut in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin seeds and paprika. Roast until the butternut is cooked, about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, put the grated courgette into a colander and sprinkle with some salt. Leave over the sink for about 20 minutes and then squeeze to drain the excess water.

Fry the onion in some olive oil until it starts to soften and then add the harissa paste, garlic and a pinch each of cumin and coriander seeds. If you like heat, add a good pinch of dried chilli flakes. Fry for a minute or two and then add the courgette. Fry until the courgette is softened, and then add the lentils. Turn up the heat at this point to burn off all the water. Cook the lentils for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until it’s wilted.

Combine the eggs, honey, apricots, raisins, feta, almonds, pine nuts and herbs and mix together with the lentils.

Brush a bit of melted butter on the bottom of a large casserole dish and lay down a sheet of filo pastry. Brush a bit of melted butter on top of the sheet and put another one on top. Repeat until you have four sheets on top of each other. Pour in the butternut cubes and spread across the base of the pie. On top of this pour in the lentil mixture and spread evenly. Now comes the fun part – scrunch up sheets of filo and cover up the top of the pie to make the ‘crust’. Brush the sheets with melted butter. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Tomato and carrot dhal

I’m cooking all the wrong foods for this heatwave we are experiencing in Cape Town at the moment. I should be making salads and cold, refreshing things that don’t need cooking. Instead I had a craving for warm, mushy, comforting dhal, and sweated away over a stove to indulge it. This is one of the best dhals I’ve ever had though, so it was well worth it. There’s nothing like dhal for a healthy Indian food fix. It’s so easy too – anyone could make this.

I adapted this recipe from a fab new veggie cookbook my mum gave me for Christmas – 500 Greatest-ever vegetarian recipes.

tomato and carrot dhal

Serves 4

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 2 carrots, diced finely (this is easiest to do in a food processor)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes or chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 7 tomatoes, chopped finely
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 5 tablespoons of fresh coriander

Heat a slug of vegetable or peanut oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, carrot, cumin, mustard seeds and ginger. Stir constantly for 5 minutes until the seeds begin to pop.

Stir in the tumeric, chilli and garam masala and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Add the lentils, water, coconut milk and tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking.

Stir in the lime juice and add the chopped coriander. Cook for 10-15 minutes more, until the lentils are tender.

I didn’t have any naan, but I felt like eating the dhal with something to scoop it up, so I grilled thick slices of eggplant, which were really tasty.

Mediterranean puy lentil salad

Here’s another of Wendy’s fantastic salad recipes, sent to her by a friend.

lentil salad

Serves 4

  • 250 g puy lentils
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 240 g sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 200 g feta cheese, crumbled
  • A small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to serve

Cook the lentils until al dente (15 – 20 mins). Meanwhile, gently cook the chopped peppers in olive oil for 2 minutes, add the tomatoes and cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat.

Strain the lentils and add them to the yellow pepper and tomatoes, stir in well, add the feta cheese, season to taste and top with chopped parsley.

Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.