From garden to kitchen,north african squash and chickpea stew…

Last April I lovingly planted the seeds for several varieties of pumpkins and squashes. I tended them in my small plastic greenhouse and when they were big and healthy I planted them on our allotment. Within 2 weeks the slugs had eaten them all and my little heart was broken at the sight of their stubby little stalks.

So a little later in the year, I decided to try again, but this time I would keep them at home where I could look after them every day. I planted them on into grow bags and despite not being planted (from seed) until early May I have a wonderful crop so far.

Below is a recipe I have used for my Patty Pan squashes and adapted a little from the River Cottage ‘Every Day Veg’ book…..

Ingredients….

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 100g Green Lentils
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 saffron strands, toasted and crushed
  • 500ml passata
  • A good handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • A good handful of coriander
  • 300g squash or pumpkin
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g vermicelli, orzo or other small pasta

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until just starting to turn golden. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, celery, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes.

Now add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, tomato sauce or passata, parsley and about half the coriander. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and deseed the squash or pumpkin and cut into large cubes. Add to the pan with the stock and bay leaf. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer until it is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, scattered with the remaining coriander leaves and with a few dates on the side, if you like.

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