Fiery flavours in October’s kitchen
It’s a slightly different Hallowe’en in our village tonight. Usually by now we’ve had several knocks on the door as unrecognizable family groups walk round Trick or Treating in their ghoulish costumes!
This year though lots of houses have decorated windows or garden gates with spiders, witches and pumpkins for families to spot as they walk round in their bubbles!
We’ve done a hollowed out pumpkin as usual with a candle inside it and tonight we’ll be eating some pumpkin stew from my bubbling cauldron! There’s a bit of chilli and ginger in it to give it a bit of a kick along with some veg from the freezer.
Don’t forget to save the seeds from your pumpkin as they’re delicious when roasted or toasted. Toss in olive oil and salt and roast in a low oven for about 15 minutes until they start to split Sprinkle with some smoked paprika for an extra kick.
Fiery Pumpkin Stew
Serves 4 hungry people, easily doubled. Takes about an hour.
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 medium parsnips, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Couple of handfuls of green beans (cut into 3cm pieces) or peas,
300g(10oz) pumpkin flesh, cubed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
300m(10.5floz)l vegetable stock (chicken works well too)
1 firm pear, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
For the thickening ‘picada’
Traditionally used in catalan cooking this ‘paste’ is added at the end of cooking time to thicken the cooking juices.
1 slice thick white bread
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1½ tablespoons cooking juices from the vegetables
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ – 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
Pinch of saffron
Thumb sized piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped small
- Heat the oil in a large, lidded casserole and add in the onions, carrots, pepper, garlic, celery and parsnip. Put the lid on and sweat gently for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened in their own juices.
- Add in the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes then tip in the pumpkin, green beans or peas and the chickpeas. Stir to coat in the juices then pour in the stock. Bring to a gentle simmer then pop the lid back on and cook for about 20 minutes until everything is tender. Stir occasionally.
- Add the pears and simmer without the lid for about 5 minutes until just softened but not breaking down.
- Whilst everything is cooking make the picada. Cut the bread into pieces and fry in some olive oil.
- Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz for a few seconds until everything is broken down into a thick paste. Traditionally done in a pestle and mortar the garlic and salt would be ground first followed by some toasted almonds, bread and the spices. Cooking liquor is added then to the right consistency.
- When the vegetables are tender add the picada and lightly stir in or spread over the top and leave for a couple of minutes to absorb some of the juices.
A bowl of this is plenty on its own but for the meat eaters serve with some sausages or chop some chorizo to add into the stew.