Webbed Pumpkin-Tamarind Trees (or… Broccolini® “Chops”)

Hold off on the hyperventilating – today’s recipe tastes nothing like “chops”, I promise. The shape, however, was too similar for me to pass up on the name. I know it’s been a week since I posted here – it’s because I’ve been working on something special… And I don’t just mean this dish. I’ll be revealing some exciting news about Appetite Affliction over the coming weeks, so hang tight and stay tuned!

Trees cocooned in spiders webs after flooding in Sindh, Pakistan
Photo credit: Russell Watkins / UK Department for International Development

Do you remember the photos that circulated a while back, of the trees in Pakistan cocooned by spider webs due to severe flooding? When I asked some friends what famous tree images (photographs, paintings etc.) they could think of, my friend Hugh mentioned them – and a recipe idea started to drive me crazy. It drove me crazy for a few weeks, actually, and I was finding inspiration in the most unexpected places. After some trials, I eneded up with these beautiful, delicate, rice-paper-wrapped stalks of broccolini. I used tamarind as the main flavour, as it’s a prominent ingredient in that part of the world.

PTBC2
Webbed Pumpkin-Tamarind Trees (or… Broccolini® “Chops”) – yields approx 15

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Chick(pea) & Pumpkin Cacciatore

This is a sweet, comforting dish – and one that has come from my mission to get through my supply of free, organic pumpkins without resorting to pumpkin soup!

Chickpea Pumpkin Cacciatore
Serves 6

Sauce:
1 Brown Onion, roughly chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, smashed
1 Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper), roughly chopped
1/4 Yellow Capsicum, roughly chopped
3 Truss Tomatoes, cut into eighths
4 TBSP Tomato Paste (no added salt)
1 TBSP Raw Sugar
1 Cup Water

Filling:
700g Jap Pumpkin
2 Red Capsicums
1.5 Cups Cooked Chickpeas (1x 400g tin)
1 Cup Stock (I used Massel “chicken” stock which is vegan & GF)
1/2 tsp Dried Basil

Fresh parsley to serve & salt to taste.

  • Cube pumpkin into bite sized pieces and roast with a light spray of oil at 180C for 25 minutes.
  • To make the sauce, first sauté the onion on medium heat. When it starts to brown a little, add the garlic.
  • Stir for a minute, then add the tomatoes & capsicums. Switch heat to high and cook until the capsicums are tender.
  • Add the tomato paste, raw sugar & water. Stir to combine, then let cool before blending.
  • When your pumpkin has finished roasting and your sauce is blended, you’re ready to rock – err, I mean assemble. Roughly chop the remaining two capsicums into bite sized pieces (similar size to the pumpkin) and sauté until tender. Add the chickpeas and stir for a minute or two.
  • Finally, add the sauce, stock & dried basil, then fold the pumpkin in, being careful not to mash it – you want it to hold its cubed shape. Heat through, add salt and serve.

The cacciatore in the photo was served with gluten free pasta but you could serve this with regular pasta, rice, mashed potato or whatever floats your boat. It’s also good on its own!

Also, don’t be shy with the salt – it really brings out the flavours in this.

Rustic Mashed Soup

This is a hearty winter recipe that’ll warm you up! Actually, it’s less of a recipe and more of a concept; it’s a meal-soup. It’s not just some wimpy little weight loss tool; it’s something proper and filling with protein in it, that’s less likely to give you the farts than a bowl of beans.

Now… There’s no real rules to this. If you don’t like parsnip, use cauliflower! If you don’t like potato, use sweet potato! If you don’t like pumpkin, maybe you should get yourself checked out…

The title of this post is the fancy pants name for the recipe; What I’ve decided to affectionatelly nickname it is “Root Soup” – because of the root vegetables in it, and its double entendre value. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Australian colloquialisms, “root” is another word for the f-bomb.

Veg

The inspiration for this came from two separate people in my life. The first being a very close friend who has generously shared many pumpkins from her garden with me this winter. She recently suggested that I add some oats to my pumpkin soup for a change of scenery & texture. Of course I was unable to resist this simple little tip, however I’ve opted to use quinoa instead of oats because quinoa is gluten free, high in protein, and a whole grain.

The second person that influenced this soup is a co-worker who proudly brought in his first attempt at pumpkin soup for lunch one day but looked at me sheepishly and told me that he mashed it with a potato masher because he didn’t have a blender. While he said this in an embarrassed, I-cook-like-a-student kinda way, I was pretty impressed and thought that mashing the soup was a brilliant idea! Thus, I have stolen it and created a recipe that’s 50% in his honour! Hah!

Rustic Mashed Soup

This makes 6-8 servings.

1kg Jap Pumpkin, peeled, seeded & cut into very large chunks
1 tsp Fresh Garlic or Ginger, minced
2 Carrots, cut into half moon shapes
1 Cup Potato, diced with skin on
2 Cups Parsnip, peeled & diced (remove the woody centre)
2 Cups Veggie Stock (try using my vegetable stock concentrate!)
6 Cups Water
2x 15cm (6″) Sprigs Rosemary
Some Black Peppercorns (or not, depending on how you feel about pepper)
1/2 Cup Quinoa
S+P

  • Roast pumpkin for 40 minutes at 220C/425F. You can dry roast this or use a little spray of oil. Don’t panic when you see some burned bits on your pumpkin – it’s supposed to happen. It adds an awesome flavour to the soup.
  • Quickly sauté garlic/ginger in a smidge of oil, then add carrot, potato, parsnip, stock & water.
  • Tie rosemary & peppercorns up in some muslin like a bouquet garni*. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have any muslin, you can also just finely chop up the rosemary leaves and crush the peppercorns. Simmer with lid on for 10 minutes.
  • Add quinoa to the pot and cook with lid on for a further 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, remove the rosemary and carefully add the roasted pumpkin to the pot, trying not to let crap splash everywhere. Grab your trusty potato masher and mash away until you get a consistency/texture you’re happy with.
  • Season with S+P, serve with a little seedy seasoning and a few leaves of fresh rosemary. Easy peasy!

*If you don’t have anything like this, I’d suggest throwing the rosemary in with the pumpkin while it’s roasting. Whatever you do, don’t add the rosemary loose to your pot of soup because you’ll be pulling out bare twigs at the end and the loose rosemary leaves will be unpleasant.