Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
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Sunday 16 January 2005 Cooking with Pete: Pumpkin and Harissa Stew

Went to quite a posh party a week or so ago. I should probably qualify that a bit. There was plenty of booze, for instance, but it was decent wine and there were wine glasses to drink it from. Later on, I was given a glass of port. Although the party wasn't fancy dress, I was introduced to a judge. There was terrific food too, lots of it and all of it home-made. (The sole exception were the samosas, which it is perfectly acceptable to buy in.) We took this stew, and I feel slightly smug that which such good competition people have asked for the recipe.

I had a splendid conversation with a woman who stalked across the room toward me, brandishing her plate. She was a former producer on Pebble Mill at One, responsible for, among other things, pairing up the Cooking Canon and Rabbi Blue. Scoff if you want, but that was bloody TV magic. Stephanie, this is for you.

This recipe looks a bit long and fiddly, but that's deceptive. Every little stage takes five or ten minutes, so there's time to prepare as you go. There's no need to spend twenty minutes chopping before you begin, just get everything together and start.

Forage around and gather up:

  • some olive oil
  • 500g of baby onions
  • a whole bulb of garlic
  • a tin of tomatos
  • two tablespoons of harissa paste - harissa is a Morrocan chilli paste that you seem to be able to get pretty much anywhere these days
  • a cinnamon stick
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • 2 or 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 500g of pumpkin or squash, peeled and seeded, cut into chunks
  • 150g of baby corn
  • 150g of sugar snap peas, mange touts or whatever
  • 350g of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon of cornflour
  • a handful of fresh mint
  • a handful of coriander leaf

You'll need a large, heavy-based pan. Large, maybe as large as you've got. I use a Le Creuset cocotte approximately the size of a baby bath.

  1. Peel the onions, but leave the whole. Cut the garlic bulb in half horizontally. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan. Fry the onions, and the bottom half of the garlic gently for 5 minutes or so, until they've softened a bit and nicely brown.
  2. Tip in the tin of tomatoes. Add the harissa, cinnamon stick and the stock. Bring it up to the boil, clang on the lid and simmer for ten minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes. Bring back to the boil, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Tip in the pumpkin and baby corn. Cover and simmer for five minutes.
  5. Add peas and cherry tomatoes. Simmer for another five minutes.
  6. Gently fish around and hook out the garlic bulb and the cinnamon stick. The garlic flesh will be cooked and soft. Scrape it out, mash it up, and stir it back in. Throw the papery bit away.
  7. Mix the cornflour with a little water. Pour it in, and stir gently while everything thickens up.
  8. Chop up the mint and coriander, throw it over the top.
  9. Carry enormously heavy pan to table, and serve with cous cous, warm bread, or anything else which will soak up the juices.

The chilli is rounded and warming rather than hot and spicy, and the whole thing is lovely, cuddly food. I usually make it with butternut squash because I think it has a better texture than pumpkin, and I generally put in much more then 500g too. A typical squash will yield over that anyway, and I usually use two. As with most cooking, there's no need to be too precious about the quantities. It's a big hearted dish - it can take it.

This recipe comes originally from an issue of BBC Vegetarian Good Food. I don't know which one, because we've only kept this one page. The recipe is by Lorna Brash. Perhaps she once worked on the nation's favourite lunchtime viewing?


Tagged recipe, and cooking-with-pete


Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired

Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

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About