As the leaves begin to turn, the days shorten and the temperature drops, pumpkins begin to appear. Generally sown in April and planted out at the beginning of June their sweet flavour comes from basking in the sun over the summer months. Culinary pumpkins seem to have been sidelined by flavourless, huge varieties which are grown for Halloween. There's a world of beautiful, diverse and incredible delicious pumpkins out there, ready to be explored. Parliament Hill farmer’s market for one was full of them this weekend and will continue to be so over the coming months
Pumpkin & white bean stew Serves 6 White beans 200g of dried coco or cannellini beans, soaked overnight A few bay leaves and peeled garlic cloves Pumpkin 1 x small culinary pumpkin (about 1.5kg in weight) For the stock The flesh and seeds from your pumpkin 5 blackpeppercorns 2 bay leaves Sage brown butter ½ a bunch of sage 100g unsalted butter
feta, ricotta broken into chunks
MY SUGGESTION IS TO DO THIS ALL AHEAD OF TIME AND THEN MAREL AT THE EASE OF PUTTINGy THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS TOGETHER FIVE MINUTES BEFORE YOU WANT TO EAT.
White beans - Drain and replenish with fresh, cold water. The beans expand as the cook so be sure to use a big saucepan and have at least 5cm of water covering the beans. Add a few bay leaves, and a handful of peeled garlic cloves. Slowly bring up to the boil and allow to cook gently and at a consistent temperature for up to three hours. Well cooked pulses are soft and resemble no chalky texture. Towards the end of the cooking process add a generous glug of olive oil. This helps the skins really soften as well as creating a thick, delicious beany liquid. Pumpkin - cut in half using a sharp knife. Once in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp and place into a medium sized pan. Add the other stock ingredients, and just cover with cold water. Slowly bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that appears on the surface. Allow to gently simmer for 30 minutes before taking off the heat, let it stand for up to an hour, before straining. The pulp is done, so discard. You can use your stock to top up your cooking beans, or freeze it, ready for when you want to make pumpkin soup. Meanwhile cut your pumpkin into large chunks. Toss with olive oil , salt and pepper and spread evenly onto a baking tray. Cover with tin foil and roast for 30 minutes, or until completely soft to the touch.
Allow your pumpkin to cool a little before scooping the delicious, vibrant flesh away from the skins. I throw the skins into the stock as I go - they’re only going to add more flavour.
Once your beans are cooked, season with salt and pepper. You want the beans to be dense amongst their liquid - not too crowded though, but also not sparsely floating in their liquid, so add or remove liquid to get the right balance. Add your pumpkin flesh to the hot beans - I think the trick here is not to break up the pumpkin too much but enjoy the large, soft chunks. Bring up to the boil and allow the flavours to combine for five minutes or so, check the seasoning and add some pumpkin stock if it feels too thick. Sage Brown Butter - the last addition to your pumpkin stew. Place the butter and sage into a small pan and gently bring to the boil. As it starts to boil, stir with a whisk to prevent the milk solids from catching. You’ll see the milk solids have separated and start to turn brown. There's a very fine line between burnt butter and delicious, nutty brown butter - once it's as dark brown as you dare to go pour into a heat resistant container and set aside. Serve your stew in bowls, breaking rough chunks of feta on top along with a tablespoon of brown butter.
Recipe and text by @luluclarecox
Lulu Cox 12/10/2020