Pumpkin stew


I made this pumpkin stew because I had a block of pumpkin sitting in my fridge for close to a week, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I bought it out of habit, since all winter long I’d been making pumpkin soup — nearly a batch a week — but as the weather becomes warmer, the thought of soup isn’t always as appealing as it was a few months ago. Furthermore, I could have made it into a pumpkin bread, which was once my signature dish, prompting a former roommate to ask with bewilderment, “do you also make lettuce cake?” You see, vegetables aren’t usually served as dessert in Israel. But for some reason, my sweet tooth wasn’t interested this time around.

However, I did want some solid food for dinner, particularly something that could be eaten with rice. This pumpkin stew has a Middle Eastern-style, tomato-pepper based sauce, and makes for a good meal. It also keeps well in the fridge, and is an easy dinner on the go, or after a long evening of class — just add rice or another grain of choice, and eat.

The pumpkin is cooked only until it begins to become soft, which leaves its pleasant, stringy texture intact. There’s something nice about breaking off forkfuls of gourd fibers.

For about four servings:

About 1 kilo pumpkin
1 onion
1 red pepper
1-2 carrots (purple ones add nice color)
4-6 garlic cloves
4-6 tomatoes
pinch of celery/celery leaves
olive oil for frying

2 tablespoons paprika
6 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Chop the onions and saute in olive oil in a thick-bottomed pot. Chop and add the peppers, carrots and garlic. When vegetables are soft, add the tomatoes, about 2 cups water and the spices. Cover and let simmer until the tomatoes are soft enough to fall apart.

Add the pumpkin chunks, cover the pot and let simmer until the pumpkin is soft enough to be pierced by a fork, but not mushy.

Serve atop rice.

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