Peppered Lentils with Kale & Butternut Squash

This recipe is hands-down one of the new favorites in my household and I am posting it this week because I think you can serve it two ways—and it’s perfect for Thanksgiving. This nutrient-packed recipe is scrumptious as is, but to jazz it up for the holiday, I will be serving it baked into a halved acorn squash (see recipe at bottom of post) with some delicious biscuits, jam, gravy and more…

So, I came up with this recipe while I was prepping the ’lil West Virginia cottage. That day I had visited the Shepherdstown Farmers’ Market and picked up some beautiful organic kale, a red pepper, an onion and a butternut squash from Blueberry Hill Organic Farm.

I had soaked some lentils overnight (always be prepared) and was thinking of making a veggie cake out of all of this, but as I cooked, I just loved how everything looked as is, so I ended up simply folding it all together. WOW. So delicious. My sweetie has been asking for it ever since. I now make it at least once a week.


Makes: 4 servings (6-8 if you are using it for Stuffed Acorn Squash)
Time: 30-40 minutes

Steamer, metal strainer or a baking dish.
Chef’s knife
2 Medium pots or 1 pot and 1 pan
Large glass bowl

Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why.
4 cups green lentils (1 cup dry), rinsed, soaked overnight and cooked (here are tips for perfect lentils every time)
1 small butternut squash, cubed small to yield about 3 cups
1 red onion, chopped small
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 head kale, washed, de-stemmed and chopped
1 tbspold-pressed coconut oil
2 tsp gresh ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 tsp fine ground sea salt, or more to taste


Let’s get started.
Peel and remove seeds from butternut squash. Cut into small cubes. Note: the sugars/starches in the butternut squash can stain and dry out your hands. I tend to rinse/wash my hands a lot as I prep, and sometimes, I’ll buy already cubed organic butternut squash if I can find it at the store. Experience it and see what you’d like to do next time.

Now here’s one of my fave kitchen tricks for steaming squash
when I’m cooking other things in a pot:

When I cook my lentils
(rice/quinoa/etc. with other recipes) in a pot, I place a steamer/metal strainer on top of the pot where my lentils are cooking. I then place a lid over the squash. As my lentils cook, they steam the squash for me so I don’t have to dirty extra pots/run extra burners.

If you don’t have the kitchen gadgetry to do this, you can simply steam your squash in another pot for 10-20 minutes until a fork easily pierces the cubes or you can place the cubes in a glass baking dish and roast them in the oven at 350°F. Just add about 1/4 water to the bottom of the glass dish before baking—it will steam your cubes. No matter what method, prepare your lentils while you prepare the squash.

In a large pot, bring lentils and water to boil, reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes, or until a firm but tender texture is achieved. You can drain them, or add more water if necessary. The older the lentils, the longer they take to cook. Avoid mixing old and new lentils—they may cook unevenly.

While lentils and squash are cookin’, warm coconut oil in a medium pot (or pan). Add onion and brown for 7 minutes over medium-high heat. Add pepper and stir together, cooking 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 5 more minutes. Place your chopped kale in the pot and stir in, reducing heat to medium.

Once the kale is wilted, place in a large bowl with cooked lentils and stir. Add salt and pepper—don’t be afraid to be generous with the pepper here. It makes the dish. Carefully fold in your steamed squash and again, season to taste.

If you are preparing this for Thanksgiving:
You can prepare the recipe a day or two in advance and it is still delicious. Just reheat in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes.

Make a stuffed acorn squash recipe for No-Turkey day!
Simply split the squash in half perpendicular to the “equator” and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. One squash = 2 servings. Set the squash halves, cut sides up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can also lightly coat with cold-pressed coconut oil, too.

Roast at 350°F for 25 minutes and remove. Fill with Peppered Lentils and bake 10-15 more minutes. For a crumbly top, put some almonds or walnuts in the food processor with a pinch of salt and pepper and sprinkle the stuffed acorn squash before baking.

Oh my… hungry typing that.
– – –

I think I was inspired to create this colorful dish thanks to these flowers I picked up at the market…

Do you think so, too?


Read the comments or add yours.

Comment Rules

  1. I absolutely love pepper and lentils and kale so this sounds amazing!

    • This is hands-down a new favorite in my kitchen. Make it asap, you won’t be sorry!

  2. Thanks, Heather, this looks delicious! Would you amend the recipe to include the quantity of green lentils? As always, thanks for the inspiration!!

  3. Making this tonight, but with acorn squash (b/c it’s what I have). Thanks, Heather!!

  4. Jennifer

    I may have over cooked the lentils. They were very grainy in texture. Smelled great, looked great, but I couldn’t get past the lentils texture.

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Jennifer~ Do you know if they were older lentils? They are usually not grainy—hmm… if you like beans, try Black Beluga Lentils next time—they are like little black beans and hold up very well to cooking. Plus they have a whopping 25 grams of protein per cup.

  5. Michelle

    Love this recipe Heather! Thanks very much!

  6. Susan

    This recipe looks delicious! I was wondering…can I use brown lentils instead of green?

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