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Dishing Up Good-for-you Kabocha Stew

I have been very fortunate to work with the gang at Aloha Care Hawaii and their great efforts and involvement with the community. They have been promoting healthy and affordable eating, which is very important with diabetes and obesity on the rise.

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Jesse Lipman (in apron) with young chefs (from left) Heona Ayau-Odom, Celia Kapua Valenzuela and Anuhea Smith serve up dishes while Lanai snags a spoonful of stew RYAN SAKAMOTO PHOTO

They introduced me to Jesse Lipman, who has been doing some amazing things with local ingredients and teaching keiki how to use them in the kitchen. This dish he prepared on the show has to be one of my favorite healthy recipes. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try lentils or aren’t sure if you would like them, try this recipe. I think you will be impressed!

HEALTHY CURRIED KABOCHA STEW WITH LENTILS

• 1 kabocha squash, trimmed, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
• 2 cups lentils, washed and drained
• 1 large bunch kale
• 5 cups vegetable broth
• 1 head garlic, chopped
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2-3 fingers olena, chopped
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 teaspoon curry powder
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2-3 curry or sage leaves

Heat a deep pan or medium stew pot over medium heat; add olive oil and curry powder. Sauté onion, then add olena and garlic. Lightly salt and pepper, to taste. When onions and garlic start to brown, add lentils and stir until everything is mixed well; cook 2- 3 minutes. Add a little olive oil if pan gets dry. Add 4 cups vegetable broth, cover pan, adjust heat to simmer.

While lentils cook, start another sauté pan with butter and curry or sage leaves, and gently simmer. Butter can turn brown but should not burn.

As lentils begin to soften (about 10 minutes), add kabocha. Also add the leftover vegetable broth, if stew gets too thick. Kabocha and lentils should soften together after 10-15 minutes of cooking.

At this point, taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper and curry powder, if needed. Add the kale and stir gently. Cook 2-3 minutes. Strain the herb butter into the stew pot and gently stir, or instead, drizzle a little of the butter on each serving bowl.