Make the most of what could be nature’s most weighty fruit – the humble pumpkin.
I can’t recall where I found this recipe now, but I have a feeling that it was in a promotional recipe book. Wherever it was from (and I promise to dig through the mounting piles of paper in my room to find out!), it is fantastic. I made it for my boyfriend, and as an avid meat eater, he was probably a little unnerved to discover that it was vegan – if something could taste this good without meat and dairy, what else would turn out to be lies?! But yes, the wonderfully creamy texture of this dish has absolutely no connection with a cow, or a goat, if that’s your milk of choice. It is the pumpkin that takes centre stage, rather than sliced chicken, or meat. Along with tomatoes, it gives the stew a vibrant hue that is cosy and inviting. And just one mouthful confirms that it tastes as good as it looks – the smooth consistency is deliciously welcoming, whilst the hint of chili from the cajun spice lends warmth. Though October famed, pumpkins are actually seasonal throughout winter, coming in in September and at their best from October to December. Which makes it the perfect muse for this wintry stew, spicy and comforting for when it’s just too cold outside.
Ingredients, serves 3-4, (can be frozen)
- ½ pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 400g tin of plum tomatoes
- Tin of coconut milk
- Cajun seasoning – preferably one that has fennel included in it, such as Barts
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Fry the sliced onion in a drizzle of olive oil, until they begin to wilt. This should take around 8-10 minutes. Add in the sliced peppers, and stir until they begin to colour.
- Add the garlic to the pan, and fry until it begins to smell aromatic. Add the Cajun seasoning to taste, and stir thoroughly to ensure all the ingredients are coated in the spices. Season.
- Place the pumpkin chunks into the pan, and fry until they are softened a little. Then, add in the tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until the pumpkin is softened through. Serve immediately, with boiled potatoes or crusty bread for dipping!