Friday, 25 October 2013

And for My Next Trick- Mexi-Vegitation!

Chili con Zucca ;-)
Chili con Pumpkin ;-)

I am sure there are a gazillion and one vegetarian chili dishes and this is no revolutionary idea you are seeing here of course- what it IS though, is me making use of a couple of cupfuls of pumkin I had left-over from last night! Waste not: want not... that's me folks! And this was my supper... which turned out to be pretty tasty- even if I do say so myself! 

Most probably, you have a couple of cans of kidney beans at home too, just as I did. But somehow, they seem like a good idea at the time and then they sit there and never get used to make anything other than the traditional chili con carne. So I decided to make a dish that was a little less traditional and to use them up all the same! And as usual- this was a much quicker and lighter affair, so hopefully you might enjoy it as much as I did too... 

I started off by slicing up a small onion and roughly dicing the pumpkin into small, bite-sized pieces. This was, again, a Hokkaido pumpkin, which is my favorite variety, not just because of the flavor, but also because it does not require peeling... yay! I then added a red pepper- one of those pointy-shaped ones in this case, cut into small strips and fried them together for 2-3 minutes in just a little olive oil, until the onion became translucent. I then added a half teaspoon of cumin, a little finely chopped garlic, a good sprinkle of oregano and dried rosemary and stirred everything thoroughly together.

Next came a good tablespoon of tomato paste which I stirred in and allowed to fry for a minute or so and then I deglazed the pan with just enough boiling water to dilute the tomato paste and to clear the bottom of the frying pan- and yes, a shallow pan is better for this as the larger surface area lets the liquids boil down and reduce quicker and better. I popped-in a couple of bay leaves, popped-on the lid and in the meantime started the rice cooking- this could simmer away for the next 10 minutes unattended just fine :-)

I boiled the rice in the regular, Asian manner- boiling 2 cups of water for each cup of rice- not very mexican- but still the only way to go to get fluffy rice! Season with salt and boil for 10 minutes, then stir once, put the lid back on, and allow to finish cooking in it's own steam and residual heat for a further 5-10 minutes- you can't get any easier than that!

After 10 minutes of boiling the rice and turning it off, I took the lid off the pumpkin and peppers, which had reduced down to a thick consistency, stirred them through and then added half a can of kidney beans, along with some of the juices. I added a little cayenne, a teaspoon of smoked paprika powder, and a little more water, just to keep the sauce fluid enough as the pumpkin and beans will absorb quite a bit whilst they cook. 

10 minutes of gentle simmering later, the pumpkin and peppers were moist and tender, the beans were already pre-cooked in the can, so obviously, all they needed to do was warm through- and yes... it all tasted terrific as the flavors had mingled and intensified wonderfully! Still- this s the right time to check that it is spicy enough, as the initial heat does diminish somewhat as it cooks into the pumpkin and beans... so I added a splash of Tabasco, just to give a little boost, a teaspoon more tomato paste, a splash more boiling water, a good pinch of finely chopped parsley and a little squeeze of lemon. 

And once this was nicely mixed together and the sauce had thickened down again it was ready to serve! I did without any such additions as cheese, sour cream or anything like that- the only further addition required in my opinion was a little sprinkle of freshly, finely chopped parsley- which was what made this into a healthy and delicious dish. Yes- I do like to do things differently... and I hope that you do too! Enjoy!

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