The nation is apparently running out of pumpkins as we go Halloween lantern-carving crazy. I don’t know how true that is but a pumpkin shortage is no particular worry to me in the kitchen as I prefer to cook with one of the other, more flavoursome squahes that are increasingly easy to buy. Which is not to say pumpkins can’t be very tasty. But the sad thing is that as most of them are grown for carving rather than eating, producers are more concerned with pumpkins of the ‘right’ carve-able size, shape and price. Flavour is not a top priority when most of the flesh gets binned.
For this recipe I like to use a harlequin squash mainly because they are a good size and shape and look pretty too. Any squash that is about the size of a grapefruit or honeydew melon is what you are after. That gets roasted and then filled with a sweetly spiced mixture of chorizo, chickpeas, and booze-soaked sultanas. It makes for a most-warming supper just right for this time of year.
Chorizo & chickpea stuffed squash (serves 2)
1 harlequin or other squash
4 tbsps olive oil
100ml vermouth or wine
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
100g cooking chorizo, cut into chunks
1tsp each of ground coriander and ground cumin
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2tsps red wine vinegar
half a lemon
handful of flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 200C
1. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Make a few slashes in the flesh and run into each half a tbsp of olive oil and some salt. Sit the squash halves cut-side down on a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes. The flesh should be tender but the squash needs to still be holding its shape. Once cooked remove from the oven and sit in a snug casserole or baking dish – cut side up this time.
2. Whilst the squash is roasting get on with the filling. Put the sultanas into a small pan and pour over the vermouth / wine. Heat until just bubbling then take off the heat and leave the sultanas to re-hydrate in the alcohol.
3. Heat the remaining 2tbsps of olive oil in a frying pan and then gently cook the onions in the oil. Add the garlic to the pan after the onions have started to soften. Then the chorizo goes in with the spices. Cook for 10 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, vinegar, a good squeeze of lemon, the sultanas and whatever they’ve been soaking in. Season. Put a lid on and leave to cook gently for another 10 minutes.
4. Now scoop the chickpea mixture into and around the squash halves. Return to the oven for 10 minutes then serve with the chopped parsley leaves over the top. A dressed green salad is all you need alongside.