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Fesenjan with Butternut Squash

(recipe, Linda Shiue)

Ingredients

  1. 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (3 to 4 cups total)
  2. 2 Tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil
  3. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  4. 2 cups walnuts, finely ground with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor
  5. 1½ cups water
  6. ⅔ cup pomegranate molasses (see Note, below)
  7. ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  8. 1 Tbsp. salt, or to taste
  9. Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  10. Sugar, to taste (optional)
  11. Freshly steamed basmati rice, for serving

Steps

  1. Place the butternut-squash cubes in a large pot and add enough water to cover by an inch. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the squash is slightly tender; drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the ground walnuts and the 1½ cups water; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the pomegranate molasses, cardamom, 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the precooked squash and simmer for another 30 to 60 minutes, until the squash is very tender, the sauce is slightly thickened, and the walnuts begin to release their oil. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding sugar if desired, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  4. Serve hot, with the freshly steamed basmati rice.

Note

Pomegranate molasses, sometimes called pomegranate syrup, is available in most Middle Eastern groceries and fancier supermarkets. It has the color and consistency of molasses, but is simply reduced pomegranate juice, without added sugar. If you can't find it, you can make your own by simmering and reducing fresh or bottled pomegranate juice until it has the consistency of syrup.