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Harlequin Squash are again appearing in veg boxes up and down the country. Well, I presume they are, as they are appearing in mine! I love the look of the harlequin squash, but they do present the same challenges as other squash and pumpkin, which is that they are hard work to prepare. I’ve taken to overcoming this difficulty by roasting or baking the squash in it’s skin, then scooping out the flesh.
I love squash in all its forms, but fancied a new recipe, so I had a go at this stew from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Veg Every Day!’, which is a vegetarian adaptation from a traditional Moroccan recipe, Harira. Although made throughout the year, harira is often eaten by Moroccans during the month of Ramadan when it’s served to break the fast at sunset. Some families also eat it as the meal taken in the early morning before a day’s fasting officially begins.
I cut the squash in half and baked it in the oven for 30 minutes before cutting out the flesh for this recipe. Also the Hugh’s recipe called for vermicelli pasta, but I used white rice instead, which I think is also traditional. The stew is shown here in one of my favourite bowls, which came from a souk in Tunisia – I loved the opportunity to use the bowls as they were intended!
North African Squash and Chickpea Stew – adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
2 tblsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
100g red lentils
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 saffron strands, crushed
500ml passata or tinned chopped tomatoes
A good handful of parsley, roughly chopped
A large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
1 harlequin squash, baked and the flesh scooped out and chopped
1.2 litres vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
50g white rice
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 or passata, parsley and about half the coriander. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.
Add the prepared squash to the pan with the stock and bay leaf. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Add the rice and simmer until it is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately with the remaining coriander leaves. Hugh also recommends serving with dates on the side!
There are some gorgeous (and curious) photos on the Guardian website from the RHS Harvest Festival Show, which took place in the Horticultural Halls in London. The shots are inspirational, although, as discussed before on these pages, I won’t be entering any ‘biggest vegetable’ competitions any time soon!
We did another of the National Trust’s Great British Walks a few days ago and discovered some new territory with an industrial past, but which today is peaceful and relaxing. The circular walk which includes Pyrford Lock and Papercourt is 7 miles long and takes in a couple of small villages as well as the river, a canal and a two nice pubs!
The River Wey is a tributary of the Thames, joining it at Weybridge. Its industrial past took the form of mills, 22 of them, used for a variety of businesses including grinding grain and making paper and gunpowder. On this walk you pass Ockham Mill, now a lovely looking house, which had us seriously considering a move!
The Anchor pub at Pyrford Lock is a great place to stop for lunch, with views over the canal and lock, and a good selection of vegetarian dishes. Nearly all of their desserts are labelled as suitable for vegetarians too. The pub was pretty full, so think about getting there early!