A few posts ago i mentioned i'd been doing some 'retro' cooking of late (see 'Creamy Swedish Cabbage Roll). This dish most definitely fits the 'retro' category. I first encountered this meal in 2003 when i was on Raoul Island - my team-mate Julia, who is a great cook, owned a copy of the 'Amrita Cook Book', and made this dish on multiple occasions. When i returned to New Zealand i sourced myself a copy of the cook book, but strangely enough had never cooked
this dish until this season. Although i'd always enjoyed it when Julia cooked it, i somehow felt it was too 'simple' a dish to serve up as a meal, yet it is definitely far too hearty to serve as a side. However simplicity has its bonuses, such as being quick and easy to prepare; it is also tasty and very filling. These last couple of times i have cooked it i have simply served it with a big pile of greens on the side - the first time was with 'Leeks with egg, anchovy and caper dressing' (see recipe from June 26), and last night with a big pile of shredded, stir-fried Brussels sprouts. Yum!!
This is also a dish that lends itself to easy experimentation. Last night i added a stick of celery, sliced and fried with the onion and garlic. I fully intend to add some toasted cumin seeds next time i cook it, and i've also thought about finely slicing and blanching some spinach to stir through the pumpkin before baking. The options are limited only by your imagination.
One thing that is very important with this dish is to use a really tasty pumpkin. If your only pumpkin to hand is a bit watery and bland, then give this recipe a miss for the time being. Because pumpkin is the main event in this dish, if you use one with poor flavour the meal will be a total disappointment. I used a super-ripe, slightly dry buttercup pumpkin, one that would have tasted great however it was served, and the bake was a real treat.
SPICY GARBANZO and PUMPKIN BAKE
From 'The Amrita' Cookbook by Melanie Walker
4 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin (approximately half a medium pumpkin)
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
3 cloves garlic
2 medium onions
oil for frying
1 level teaspoon chilli powder
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Optional extras - toasted cumin seeds, finely chopped celery, etc
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
Chop the onions and garlic as finely as you can, and saute with the chilli powder (and any optional extras you think will be improved by a little sauteing) until transparent. Add the cooked mashed pumpkin and well-drained chickpeas, and mix in the tamari, salt and pepper. Pile into a lightly greased casserole dish, sprinkle with pumpkin or sunflower seeds and bake for 40 to 60 minutes in the pre-heated oven.
Serve with plenty of greens.