Roasted pumpkin soup

There was left over pumpkin in the fridge – maybe about a cup of it mashed up. Ten minutes later it was soup for SheWhoMustBeFed. The VegHead had a salad roll instead.

Needing and doing:

  • about one cup of left over roast pumpkin (any skin peeled off)
  • saute a few slices of onion with olive oil and a dash of tamari
  • add 3/4 cup or so of cooked haricot beans to the onion and mix through over a low heat
  • separately bamix the pumpkin, together with about the same amount of water, half a teaspoon of miso paste, and a teaspoon of tomato paste. Add more or less water to achieve the desired consistency
  • add the pumpkin to the pot and bring to a low simmer
  • garnish the soup with a few slices of avocado, and serve with a crusty roll

Berbere haricot beans in pumpkin

England has much going for it. So much that a list of all the truly fantastic things, the wonders, the fond little quirks in all their blessed, thatched glory, oh that would be a long list indeed. Best to leave all that for now and instead simply make the observation that England generally has crap pumpkins. This of course is due to a grave misunderstanding involving a pumpkin, a farmer, and a cow.

Some time long ago, before reality television and ABBA, some English farmer had a bumper crop of fabulously flavoursome pumpkins. The farmer ate them steamed, roasted, mashed, in soups and stews and pies and a hundred other ways until he nearly turned orange. Eventually he could eat no more, and wanting to share his bountiful harvest he chopped up what was left and fed pumpkin to his cows. Eventually his neighbour Ol’ Jim, who was a few herbs short of a Bouquet Garni, took this to mean that pumpkins were only fit for cows to eat. Ol’ Jim’s son surprised everyone when he later went on to found Tesco’s, a company which through its almost complete buyer-side dominance of farm produce trends has sadly contributed to the demise of a truly yummy pumpkin in this country.

And so now you can rarely find a really nice pumkin, and the range of choice is sadly devoid of Queensland Blues, and offers mostly “butternut squash”. The butternut pumpkin is a hit and miss affair in The VegHead’s experience. They’re rarely truly fabulous on their own though they have a nice enough flavour. Sometimes however they can be quite woody and an overall letdown. If you don’t know what a butternut pumpkin looks like, well they’re something like what a particularly boastful Papua New Guinea hills tribesman might wear as a gourd.

As luck would have it, Ginol Silamtena, the creator spirit of Papua New Guinea’s Korowai tribesman was smiling on SheWhoMustBeFed when she last bought a butternut pumpkin. It was a particularly flavoursome individual, with the added bonus of being well shaped to stand upright on an oven tray. Most of the “nose” of the gourd had already been used to make pumpkin soup, that the Loinfruit’s declared worthy of a B+. What was left was the seed pod end, together with about 5cms of the nose.

Lets get to partying with the pumpkin shall we?

Needing and doing together:

  • If it weren’t already obvious – a pumpkin. Butternut if you must, or a better one if you’re especially blessed by Ginol Silamtena. Cut around and down into the “Cavern of Seed” which a very sharp and thin bladed knife, in such a way as to allow the “lid” to be replaced back on later.
  • Scoop out all the seeds and the webbing with a sturdy spoon. Trim the lid.
  • Measure out enough cooked haricot beans by almost filling the voided pumpkin and then tipping them back out into a bowl.
  • Lightly saute a generous scoop of your favourite olives, together with a tablespoon of berbere paste. Once the paste has dissolved mix the beans through gently and thoroughly.
  • Return the mix to the pumpkin. Extra points if you managed to make a perfect amount of mixture so that there is none left over (though now what will you snack on while dinner is cooking smarty-pants?)
  • Secure the lid back on the pumpkin using 3 or 4 small metal skewers (wood skewers will snap for sure if you try to jam them in)
  • Roast on a tray on high for 45+ minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is soft.
  • Serve with a selection of other vegetables

Vegetable stew with polenta dumplings

SheWhoMustBeFed made a batch of polenta a day or so back. She might have been a little ambitious with the amount she made – we seem to have more dishes of polenta in the fridge than we know what to do with. One with onion and garlic mixed through it, another with a dash of ras-ek-hanout, another plain with corn nibblets mixed in.

This casserole is made from whatever vegetables are to hand, some haricot beans, and a few big lumps of polenta which act as dumplings, soaking up a big slurp of flavour from the sauce.

You need…

  • SheWhoMustBeFed to come and make you some polenta. If she isn’t available, then go ahead and do this step yourself. Each “chunk” of polenta ought to be a fair size – say about that of an egg
  • a random delection of vegetables (sweet potato, carrots, brassica…)
  • a cup of cooked haricot beans
  • 1/2 a medium onion – chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (or more…or less)
  • big handful each of fresh parsley, dill, rosemary, thyme – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of light miso paste
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 2 cups of water

To be, to be, do be doing…

  • lightly saute the onion, garlic, and chilli in a generous splash of olive oil
  • add everything else except the fresh herbs and the polenta
  • bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer and allow to bubble gently away until the vegetables are nearly cooked
  • add the herbs and give it a few minutes more
  • add the polenta. If you just dump the polenta in and stir it through it will likely break up and dissolve so a little care is required. Place the polenta on the top of the stew, and then get each to sink into the sauce by pushing aside the vegetables under each piece with a spoon. Leave covered, off the heat, for 5 minutes for the polenta to soak up some juice
  • serve, eat, get out of washing up if you can

A dill homecoming stew

Returning from Cannes was heartened by a Thursday Stew, made by SheWhoMustBeFed. Friday’s are the main shopping days for the The VegHead’s larder, so Thursdays are always “What’s left in the fridge and cupboard day”. Dill is a lovely, soft, flavoursome herb. I wonder why the word is also used as an insult?

Serve with Quinoa.

Things that will need to be left over in the fridge come Thursday…

  • a few slices of onion – chopped
  • two cloves of garlic – crushed
  • one cup of cooked haricot beans
  • a small courgette – chopped
  • one medium sweet potato – chopped
  • 3 medium cup mushrooms – chopped
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) of chopped, fresh dill
  • tablespoon of dark miso (dissolved in water)
  • pinch of cumin
  • ground pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Making the stew…

  • Saute the onion and garlic
  • Add all the vegetables, the pepper and cumin. Saute for a few minutes, then cover with water. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add the miso and beans and simmer for an additional 5 minutes
  • Add the remaining herbs and simmer for a few minutes more

Haricot bean tagine

This was made as a companion to Fragrant Moroccan Vegetables, for The Bandit and Octavia’s Daughter. The two tagines nestled together snugly in the oven while the loinfruits made occasionally disturbing thumps in the lounge room.

What you would need:

  • 3 cups of cooked haricot beans
  • 1 cup of passata
  • 1 tablespoon of miso
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ras el hanout
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 cup of boiled water
  • Olive oil

For the doing:

  • Pre-dissolve the miso paste in the boiled water
  • Give everything else a good mix before slopping it stylishly into the tagine
  • Add more water if necessary

And bake in a stinking hot oven for 45 minutes or so. As always, this will cook in that time if the tagine and the oven are preheated while you’re preparing everything.

Beetroot and Aubergine Sri Lankan curry


The World Food Cafe cookbook rightfully deserves credit for this dish, though the recipe here is slightly different.

This is one intense flavour experience, and is colourful the following day too. Serve with Quinoa, and with some additional coconut milk to hand. In the absence of Quinoa, lash yourself firmly with a bunch of celery in penance, and substitute a lesser grain of your pitiful choosing.

Needing to have in the larder:

  • 2 medium cooked beetroots – not preserved in vinegar. Lucky for The VegHead beetroot cooking day was yesterday and a big batch of cooked whole beetroot was in the fridge, soaking in its cooking water and a little salt. Actually…it wasn’t that lucky as I had planned it that way.
  • 1 medium purple aubergine – cut into large cubes
  • 1 cup of cookd haricot beans
  • 1 small onion – halved and thickly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass – chopped and ground in a mortar an pestle
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of light miso paste
  • coconut milk
  • sunflower oil or similar
  • 1/2 cup of crushed, roasted cashews

Oh…you’re making that all up…

  • dryroast the spice seeds in a hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Then crush to a powder with a mortar and pestle.
  • fry the spices and the onion
  • add the aubergine and fry until cooked but still firm. Add more oil if necessary, by jitherers those eggplants have a thirst for the stuff don’t they?
  • add the beetroot, beans, lemongrass, miso and a little water. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes allow the flavours to mix and mature
  • stir through about 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Allow the saucepan to come back to a simmer and then immediately serve
  • liberally sprinkle with cashew nuts

And here is one that I cooked earlier (before it was eaten)


Beans that the Larger Loinfruit likes

SheWhoMustBeFed requires this recipe to be recorded in its exactness. The Larger Loinfruit was served these this past Thursday and remarked that “They aren’t as good as pizza but they’re very nice”. Well…what isn’t as good as Pizza when you’re a Loinfruit? Or indeed cold pizza when you’re hung over?

Being as damn near perfection as a dish can be (when not being a pizza) this recipe must be cloned forevermore in The Veghead kitchen…or at least until one day when it is served and declared “Unfit for dinner, and oh by the way Mum I never liked that dish anyway”.

To begin:

  • 1 thin slice of red onion – finely chopped
  • 1 very small clove o garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 cm (or so) thick slice of a Jack Hawkins (or similar) tomato – chopped
  • pinch of mixed italian herbs
  • pinch of finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of cooked haricot beans
  • a few Spanish style olives (brine preserved not oil preserved) – sliced

To do:

  • saute the onion, garlic and pepper in a little olive oil
  • add tomato, the herbs, and a little water
  • saute until tomatoes begin to break down
  • add haricot beans
  • continue over a low heat for a few more minutes
  • (off the heat) stir through the olives and serve immediately

If it wasn’t already obvious; that only makes enough for one small serve – about as much as you might serve on one slice of toast.