Make tonight a cosy autumn evening

Recipes supplied by chef Cara Funk, Eddington’s of Exeter Casual Fine Dining 527 Main St, Exeter. (519) 235-3030.

Soup: Red lentil and apple with a hint of curry finished with a drizzle of Canadian maple syrup
Entrée: Rosemary roasted spaghetti squash with crispy fried bacon. Sautéed white asparagus tossed with shallots, and red Bartlett pear finished with fresh torn basil and aged cheddar

On a cozy evening there is nothing better then the aromas of autumn vegetables roasting, fried bacon, and fresh herbs. This a great dinner to sets the mood for comfort on those lazy evenings in. My first intention for this meal was to create a healthy vegetarian dinner; however, the suggestion of having a meal without any meat was not the most appealing to my husband. And the white asparagus scared him a bit as well. So I did what every cook knows to do when cooking for the gourmet-challenged, I added bacon and cheese. Everything tastes better when you add those two ingredients. The result was a fantastic dinner full of flavour and texture. It’s easy to prepare with restaurant appeal.
Our soup is earthy and rustic, and features red lentils, which cook faster then other varieties of legumes. It’s a nice way to warm up on an autumn evening.

Sweetly curried apple lentil soup
Serves 4 to 6.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
4 small to medium carrots chopped
3 royal gala apples chopped
1 cup red lentils rinsed
1 sprig rosemary chopped
2 tbsp curry powder
3 cups chicken stock (homemade is best, store-bought low-sodium stock will do)
3 cups water
2 tbsp maple syrup

Cook onions in olive oil until soft. Add garlic, celery, carrots, apple and lentils. Add rosemary, curry powder and cook until vegetables are soft. Add stock and water and simmer until lentils become soft and falling apart, about 30-40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth in texture. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Rosemary roasted squash

Take two medium-sized spaghetti squash and cut each in half lengthwise, removing the seeds. Season each half with rosemary, salt and pepper and olive oil. Place on baking sheet and roast in a 400-degree oven skin side up, for 20-25 minutes.

Sautéed white asparagus with pears and shallots

Slice one shallot and three pears and put in frying pan with eight trimmed asparagus spears and 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook until asparagus is tender yet still crispy. Finish by adding hand torn basil leaves and sliced aged cheddar. (I used four-year cheddar).

Fried bacon

(Note: start the bacon in cold frying pan.) Cut six strips of bacon into three pieces each and cook on medium heat.

Plate the squash and asparagus, and top squash with bacon.