Thursday, 25 November 2010

A pumpkin is not just for Halloween

Everyone has their favourite version of a Vegetarian chilli, even omnivores are happy to miss out the minced meat as this dish is a hearty affair. Minus the cheese and soured cream accompaniments, vegetarian chillies are often vegan. They are always packed with substance: beans, pulses and a colourful array of vegetables. If I am honest I have liked all the vegetarian chilli recipes I've eaten. I have found them always warming, filling and comforting. But I have to admit I do have one that I like above all the others, one that I would declare 'my favourite of favourites'. It is a Chilli recipe by one of my favourite vegetarian chefs, Denis Cotter. His vegetarian chilli is usually made with roasted aubergine which I do like very much, but with aubergines being out of season, I thought I would substitute this ingredient with a very autumnal one – the Goldy-orange Pumpkin.

I was actually rather surprised to still be able to find a pumpkin post-Halloween. Why? Well as soon as Halloween passes, pumpkins are immediately removed from the aisles of supermarkets and the grocers shelves.
I have to forewarn you in advance this chilli is spicy and hot. It is one designed for grown ups. Denis Cotter makes his version with 8 dried birds eye chilli, please don’t be alarmed and think the chilli ratio will knock your cotton socks off. I have followed Denis Cotters recipe word for word and actually found 8 not spicy enough, so upped it to 14 (honest). I think dried chillies must lose that heat intensity on drying or else I have a high tolerance of chilli and spicy food. This time though, not having any dried birds eye chillies in stock, I substituted these with some fresh red chillies. I used 5 or was it 6? It was spicy, it was heat Hot – but not too hot that you could not taste the other flavours.

If you decide to make this and I encourage you to do so, You can err on the side of caution and use 4 – no less though, this is supposed to be a Chilli dish after all.
As mentioned, although hot and spicy, all the flavours in the pot came through good and strong. The black beans were what Jack Crow (from the blockbuster Hollywood movie Pirates of the Caribbean) would declare black pearls and the Borlotti beans soft, the leek was both silky and caramel like. The pumpkin bites were roasted to perfection, allowing the natural sweetness and graininess to come through. Instead of the usual accompaniment of rice, I served these with some chickpea chips aka fries. Fabulous they were too.
I am submitting this to Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen who is hosting Novembers edition of My Legume Love Affair, the event founded by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook to encourage bloggers to to share legume recipes.
Pumpkin, black bean and leek chilli
Serves 4
Olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
1 tablespoon cumin, freshly ground
4 to 6 fresh red chillies, sliced
1 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
salt to taste
400g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into even sized cubes
1 large leek, washed well of grit and cut into slices
1x 400g tinned black beans (or mixed beans), drained and rinsed
1x400g tinned Borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
Heat a little olive oil in large pan and cook the onions and garlic until soft. Add the spices, chilli and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes and the tomato puree. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and check the spice levels - the sauce should be very heavily spiced at this point, as the vegetables and beans will dilute the flavours.
While the sauce is cooking, toss the pumpkin cubes into olive oil and roast them in a hot oven until softened. Turn and toss the pumpkin cubes once or twice as they cook.
In another wide pan, heat two tablespoon live oil and cook the leeks in it until just tender, stirring often.
Add the black beans, Borlotti beans, pumpkin cubes and leeks to the sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and spices before serving.
Serve on rice, chickpea chips or in tortilla wraps along with soured cream and cheese; or vegan alternative. Once again, this recipe is adapted slightly from Denis Cotter Paradiso Seasons. I hope he will not mind. If you do not have this cookbook on your shelf, I strongly encourage you to put it on your wish list. Not only for the creative and flavour packed recipes, but for the style of writing which I very much like.


  1. FOURTEEN birds eye chillies? We grew some last year and decided that two per meal was more than enough (and we eat a lot of spicy food) so this I gotta see! Beautiful photos!

  2. Wonderful pics especially the seabuckthorn!

  3. Oh yum. I've never attempted a chilli, no idea why, but what a delicious hearty dish it looks.

    Do you think it's totally inappropriate as a hot weather meal?

  4. I'm a big chilli fan and I do like beef chilli but I have to say I prefer vegetarian, this looks lovely, especially with the pumpkin and leeks :):)

  5. Oh my...I'll definitely try this and look for the book! We've not quite hit chili weather yet, and I'll need to see if pumpkins are available...

    Looks lovely!

  6. Divine! Thanks so much for your submission. I would very much like to have that cookbook.

  7. Delicious, but just reading about the 14 birds eyes made my eyes water!

  8. I think the pumpkin addition has me sold! Beautiful and delicious. I adore the sweetness of the pumpkin mixed with the spice and beans! - Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hello KitchenMaid.
    Honestly, FOURTEEN birds eye chillies - but they were dried, not fresh!

    Thank you Orkneyflowers.
    You know after watching Hught Fearnley-Whittingstalls food show a few weeks ago, I thought these were sea buckthorn, but i was not confident. shame! I woudl have picked soem to cook with. Don't think I will be going in that directions any time soon now (Troon). Well I know for certain next time.

    Thanks Ali.
    You don't know what you are missing out on. You must remedy this and make some Veggie chiili immediately. And nope, I do not think it is inappropriate to eat on hot or warm days, so do make some soon.

    Thanks Please Do Not Feed The Animals.
    Not one for little ones though :(

    Thanks Emma.
    Hip hip hooray for the Vegetarian chilli :D

  10. Thanks e.
    I highly recommend this book.
    It doesn't matter that you've not quite hit chilli weather, just make it :) If you can't locate pumpkins, butternut squash would be a good substitute. Otherwise try it with the 400g aubergines aka eggplants but into cubes roasted in a little oil in the oven for 20 minutes or until soft and proceed with recipe.

    Thank you to you Lisa - for hosting.
    Please do look out for this cookbook, I assure you will not regret it.

    Thanks Kath.
    Honestly, 14 birds eyes they were dried though, so either lose heat intensity or just were niot a very good brand.

    Thank you so much Megan. So delighted to read that you like this recipe.

  11. when I saw that your favourite chilli was by dennis cotter I thought it was the baked pumpkin and swiss chard mole which I love - but would love to try another of his chillis - though without all those birdseye chillis

  12. Hi Mangocheeks
    the recipe sounds delicious - had a good weekend in Edinburgh, found a lovely cafe underneath St Giles Cathedral and had a mosey around Greyfriars Kirk graveyard and the Grassmarket, really enjoyed it so thanks for your blog info


  13. Johanna.
    I have to check out Denis Cotters Swiss chard mole recipe, as I don't recall noting it in any of his books. This chilli is fab. I really recommend it. In fact, I am thinking of making some more. I picked up some butternut squash and a Uchiki Kuri squash too.

    Thanks Jane.
    You are so welcome. It is So good to read you had a good weekend in Edinburgh. I think it was good you came up last weekend, as it is snowing all over Scotland this weekend. BBrrrrr...

  14. What a terrific & tasty looking chili!!

    Very alternative too with the leeks in it!

  15. Thanks Sophie.
    The leeks are really good in this chilli.

  16. I love this post! It's so frustrating that pumpkins are only on sale for Halloween and that even then they aren't really good quality culinary ones, they're just grown for size.

  17. Thank you so much Hannah.
    Its nice to read that you too have noted the same about pumpkins. I also think many people donot know really what to do with it, other than soup.
    Take care of yourself.

  18. the swiss chard mole is in denis cotter's wild garlic gooseberries and me - worth hunting down

  19. Thanks Johanna.
    I do have the book. D got it for me as Birthday present one year. I will have to revisit this weekend :)

  20. This chili looks great, although I know I would definitely not be using the 14 chilis. ;)

    I can also vouch for Cotter's squash and bean mole. I made it last month and wrote about it here:

  21. Thanks Janet.
    Will certainly come by and check out your Squash and bean mole.

  22. I am making this today - will let you know how it goes!

  23. Made it with dried mulato and arbol chillies. It was good... but what really made it great was a garnish of avocado, lime juice and toasted pumpkin seeds!

  24. I am definitely going to have to get a couple more ingredients and try this! I have plenty of pumpkins, and meat is getting almost way to expensive to afford here, so I am looking for more and more veggie main dish recipes. This looks like one we could easily enjoy often.

    1. I do hope you make this Dave Anna, its one of my favourites this time of year


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