We had a great crop of these squashes in our little veg patch this year, second time of growing these striking little gems, they do take up a bit of space but are easy to look after, like a mini pumpkin, with a dense texture and chest-nutty flavour, very versatile in the kitchen. Soaks up flavours well, especially delicious in curries and soups. Just kept this recipe simple, using an excellent quality paprika along with some black cardamom for a deep smoky flavour. I have included the Aleppo pepper to add a gentle aromatic heat, then served it with freekeh, which had the addition of some of the squash peelings.
Pimenton de la Vera, Spanish sweet smoked paprika, well worth sourcing out a good quality paprika, this one is made from sweet, round peppers grown in the Extremadura region southwest of Madrid and has a distinctive smoky flavour. The Spanish paprika peppers are oak-smoked, infusing them with woody notes, and then ground in stone mills to keep temperatures low and help retain their natural flavour.
Aleppo pepper is a coarsely ground Syrian and Turkish pepper, used in cooking or as a condiment. Aleppo pepper is named after the Syrian city of Aleppo, which lies on the famous silk road spice route. The dried peppers create a spice with a lovely balance – intensely coloured, fruity, aromatic, but not overly hot. It is most commonly grown in Syria, Turkey, and the United States. Aleppo pepper is about half as spicy as standard red pepper flakes, which is one of the reasons I prefer to use this-for its milder-and more palatable zing.
Black Cardamom, mostly grown in northeast India, I only discovered this quite recently from my favourite spice store. Having been using green cardamom in recipes for many years, it was a surprise how different a flavour the black was from the green, adding smoky, clove and citrus like notes. I popped three lightly crushed pods into this stew, to add an extra layer of flavour.
Uchiki Kuri squash, smoky sweet paprika & Aleppo pepper stew with freekeh
With layers of smokiness and a gentle kick of fruity heat, sprinkled with some roasted seeds this was a perfect Autumn dish
Squash stew ingredients
- 2 x Uchiki Kuri squash, or whatever is available from your local grower, peeled and diced into 2cm chunks. Keep some of the peelings & seeds for later.
- 1 x medium onion sliced
- 1 x sweet pointed yellow pepper cut into 1cm pieces
- 2 x cloves of garlic chopped
- 2 x teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 x teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 x teaspoon good quality Spanish paprika
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 x tbsp honey
- 2 x teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1 x teaspoon black salt
- 3 x black cardamon pods, lightly crushed
- 2 x tablespoon rapeseed oil or sunflower
- Salt & pepper
- In a large frying pan heat the 2-x tbsp of oil over a medium heat, add in the onion and sauté gently for 2 minutes, stirring, so that the onions do not burn.
- Add in the squash, sweet yellow pepper, and garlic, continue cooking for a further 5 minutes stirring frequently.
- Stir through the cinnamon, cumin seeds and paprika cooking for a further one minute.
- Add in the can of chopped tomatoes, 300ml water, black salt and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Stir through the honey, Aleppo pepper and black cardamon pods, and a good grind of black pepper, cover with a lid and leave on a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Cook for approx. 35-40 minutes, removing the lid from the pan 5 minutes before the end to allow for some of the sauce to reduce.
- Check for seasoning adding, if needed a little grind of regular salt if required.
- Can be eaten straight away but if you can, leave to stand for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to deepen further.
- 200g pre-soaked in water, green roasted wheat (freekeh)
- 500g Vegetable stock
- ½ the peelings from the squash
1. In a medium saucepan bring the vegetable stock to a rolling boil, stir in the freekeh and squash peelings. Cook for approx. 30 minutes, there should be still a little bite to the freekeh when cooked.