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RECIPE: Bake pumpkin, Swiss chard and couscous

This is a hearty, filling mid-week meal that provides the recommended five-day quota of vegetables.

October is always a good month for squash, especially with Halloween pumpkins. I used butternut for this, but any kind will work as long as it is thinly sliced.

It’s also nice to see the Swiss chard recovering from the extremely dry weather this summer when it barely grew at all. I used the last of my tomatoes for this too, but a can will do if you don’t have any from the garden to use up.

Smoked harissa paste adds depth of flavor, but if not available, use regular harissa plus two teaspoons of smoked paprika. Serves three to four.

Baked pumpkin, chard and couscous is a warming autumn dish. Credit: Marshford Organic

Ingredients:

270 g pumpkin

140 g of onion

250 g Swiss chard (about 140 g leaves and 110 g stems)

10 g of garlic

Half a stick of celery

A small jar of chickpeas about 250 drained weight

2 tablespoons smoked harissa paste

5 tablespoons of olive oil

250 g of couscous

1 egg

75 g of grated cheese

salt to taste

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Baked pumpkin, chard and couscous is a warming autumn dish.  Credit: Marshford Organic
Baked pumpkin, chard and couscous is a warming autumn dish. Credit: Marshford Organic

First prepare the vegetables. Peel the pumpkin and cut it into very thin slices – I used about 30. Finely chop the onion and celery and dice the garlic.

Separate the green leaves from the chard stems. Make ribbons from the leaves and cut the stems so that they are about the same width as the chickpeas.

Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the stem pieces. Place them cut side down in an ovenproof dish, cover and microwave for five minutes. As soon as they have cooled enough, remove the skins and cut the pulp.

Place a pan of water on high heat and when it boils, add the squash slices. Blanch for two minutes, from when it returns to the boil. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Reserve the cooking liquid. Drain them when they are cool and set them aside.

Place the couscous in a bowl and add one cup of the squash cooking liquid (which should be hot) and two tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well and cover with a plate. Note – this is less liquid than normally used as it absorbs the liquid from the sauce.

Put the onion with two spoons of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and stir and fry until translucent. Add the garlic, celery stalks and Swiss chard stalks and just enough cooking liquid to cover and cook until soft.

Add the ribbons of chard leaves and cook for a few more minutes. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and smoked harissa paste. Toss until well mixed and season with salt to taste.

Set the oven to 180ºC.

Grease a baking dish (I used a square dish with a diameter of 24 cm) and spread a third of the couscous on the bottom. Cover with a layer of squash pieces and use a slotted spoon to keep the liquid in the pan and cover with half of the chard, tomato and chickpea mixture. Top with another layer of pumpkin and then the rest of the chard mixture, followed by the last pumpkin.

Crack the eggs in a small bowl and add the pan juices. Mix in the remaining couscous and spread on the patizon layer. Sprinkle with grated cheese and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cover.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the cover. Bake for another 15 minutes and then serve.

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