This fragrant, buttery stew is hearty enough to work as a vegetarian main dish. Serve with a green salad and naan (Indian flatbread) or fresh pita. Prep and Cook Time: 45 minutes. Notes: If you can't find serrano chiles, substitute 2 fresh jalapeños. You can also use less common varieties of basil, such as Thai or lemon (double the number of leaves in the recipe if they're very small).
1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed and sorted for debris
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-in. cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 whole star anise
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 piece ginger (2 in.), peeled and grated
2 serrano chiles, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
12 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
How to Make It
In a large pot, bring split peas, turmeric, and 4 cups water to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook 15 minutes.
Add squash, salt, sugar, and star anise. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
In a small frying pan, melt butter. When melted butter stops foaming on top, turn heat to high, add cumin seeds, and cook, stirring, until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ginger and chiles and cook, stirring constantly, another 2 minutes. Add basil. Stir to combine and cook until basil is wilted, about 30 seconds.
Serve stew hot, with the spiced butter poured over each serving. Or stir all the spiced butter into the pot of stew before serving.