Wednesday, November 3, 2010

fall fever

I never realized how much I love the change of seasons before. Sandwiched here between the Mediterranean and the Bay, I go to the beach to watch the tide roll in and out, I absorb the afternoon sunlight and I enjoy the soft wind that the ocean brings to the inner city at night. I am lucky. I know this.

But I catch myself peaking up toward the trees, as if I could catch a leaf turning colors, as if the climate here would suddenly surrender to my desire and set the landscape on fire with dying foliage. There is something strange and quiet about that slip into winter slumber...the spring is only so beautiful because winter welcomes it, after all.

And so today, as I craved the fall of my childhood, I walked by the local mercado and saw what looked like the love child of a pumpkin and a butternut squash. Perfect timing. Autumn has been calling my name out west for some time now, and a pumpkin (or some strange cousin of the pumpkin) definitely sounded like the right prescription to ail my southern fall blues.
Being kind of broke in Spain, ahem, "modestly paid" that is to say, has given me a new sense of awareness. Before coming here, I was already ridiculously thrifty. Now, I have a piggy bank in my room that I throw all of my change into at the end of the day. That frugality finds its way into my kitchen cabinets and challenges me to create with what I have.

So pumpkin and random ingredients in Meg's cupboard = Pumpkin and Lentil soup with goat cheese.

Here goes!

1/2 of a pumpkin
2/3 cup lentils
goat cheese
ground adobo pepper
olive oil
cayenne pepper
Spanish paprika

Let's just start this recipe out with this: carving a pumpkin can be a bitch. Ok, it is a bitch. BUT, you reap what you sew, and the outcome is so sweet you'll forget about all the patience you had to muster in the beginning.

Preheat the oven to 375. Or, if you're like me and you live in a crazy place that seems to have no faith in ovens, push all the buttons on your ancient toaster oven until it starts to get hot and looks promising. Start by scooping out the seeds and pulp. Wash and set the seeds aside for a tasty, toasty, after-dinner treat. Cube the pumpkin...or use butternut squash if you prefer (I bet that's pretty damn delicious too).
Coat the pumpkin cubes with olive oil and add a few pinches of salt. Toss in cracked black pepper, adobo pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper and Spanish paprika and pop in the oven for 45 minutes (or until tender).
After the pumpkin has been cooking for 25 minutes, start cooking the lentils. Red lentils tend to cook faster and have a softer texture (this is what I used for this recipe) but black or green lentils could also be used! Make sure the lentils are covered just enough with water and keep an eye on them...they'll soak up the water in no time. I added salt, pepper and a few pinches of cumin to the lentils, which don't need many spices because they have a natural smokey flavor that pairs well with the paprika and pepper on the pumpkin.
Once the pumpkin is done, fold it in with the lentils, and make sure to get all of that extra olive oil that has fallen off of the pumpkin! Give yourself a hearty scoop and be subtle (or greedy) with the goat cheese. Whatever your heart desires.
Delicious. Simple. And most importantly, no food is going to waste tonight.  Not even the seeds.
Honey roasted and warming my belly. Provecho!


  1. Yum Megan! You are such a wonderful cook! This really sounds yummy!

  2. Mmmm this looks/sounds so amazing. I'm gonna try it out with some butternut squash!

  3. Megan, I finally got signed on to a google account (with Bagel's help) so that I could comment on your posts. I have been reading them since the beginning. I even typed in comments but they did not go anywhere. ANYWAY, enough of that. I am enjoying your writings. You are one creative young lady.

    I love your place. It looks very welcoming. Since you have never lived close to the water, I am sure you are enjoying your beach, the tide, the sea life, etc. I lived near the beach from age 20 to 25 and really loved watching the beautiful water and its constant coming and going. I still am awed at God's earth with everything in harmony.

    We are having a cold snap and most of our leaves have already fallen. Autumn is definitely here. The forecast is for 28 on Saturday night.

    Enjoy yourself and your exploring. Maybe we can get plugged into skype eventually. Love, Granny