Spicy squash stew (£100 challenge, day twenty)

Finally got up the courage to hack open the pumpkin my mum gave me last weekend. Anything that big is daunting, not only because I worry about being able to use or process it before it goes bad, but things with thick skin requiring removal always seem to lead to minor injury for me. This time was no exception; I thought I was being careful and still managed to peel my thumb a bit along with the pumpkin! Oh well, it doesn’t hurt at the moment so is nothing serious.

With the last of the lentils, around 1/6 of the pumpkin and one of the remaining courgettes (so this has both summer and winter squashes in it), along with another of the red chillies given to me, I made a super warming autumnal stew.

white bowl half full of mostly orange-tone stew, garnished with fresh green coriander, on a blue tablecloth

I’m not sure the recipe is going to be much use to people who like measurements, but here goes anyway!

Spicy squash stew


2 onions, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon cooking oil

1 tin tomatoes

1 red chilli

1 big clove of garlic

dried red lentils – maybe 2/3 cup?

a medium-large courgette

about 1/6 of a medium pumpkin

Seasoning to taste – I used a couple of spoonfuls of Marigold bouillon powder

Fresh coriander leaves to garnish.


Heat oil in medium-large saucepan, fry cumin seeds for a minute, add onion and lower heat, sweat them until softened. While that’s happening put tomatoes, chilli and garlic in blender and whizz until smooth. Add to saucepan. Fill tomato can with water then pour that into blender so as not to waste any of the spicy tomato goodness. Briefly turn blender on, then pour liquid into saucepan. Add lentils, turn up heat until bubbling then down to simmer. Start chopping up the pumpkin into bite-sized pieces after taking the skin off (hopefully of the pumpkin, not yourself!). Add them and whatever seasonings such as salt and pepper, stock cube, etc. you are using. Chop the courgette into bite sized pieces and add that too. Simmer until everything is cooked (probably about 12-15 more minutes) and serve garnished with fresh coriander.

I enjoyed this very much, it’s light yet filling. I had planned to have a sandwich on the side but didn’t need one in the end. There are probably about 3-4 servings left in the saucepan as well.

Now I just need to think of what to do with the remaining pumpkin. If anyone has any suggestions or recipes please let me know!

pumpkin cut open to show seeds

£100 Challenge – day eleven

After worrying about how I was going to get out to dinner, I ended up getting lifts both ways, so didn’t spend any money yesterday at all. I do owe those friends a lot of dinners by now, though!

Today’s weather is damp and dreary. After work this morning I was happy enough to hurry home, so no temptation to go to the shops. I’m wearing two jumpers but my hands and the tip of my nose were getting cold so I’ve momentarily succumbed to putting the central heating on. Good job that’s not part of the challenge pot.

To counteract the cold I made a quick and simple stew including the last of my potatoes which were just beginning to sprout but fortunately hadn’t gone green, with a side of quinoa and some spicy croutons on top.


Potato, carrot and cabbage stew (3-4 servings?)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium-fine
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 smallish potatoes, cut into chunks
  • few leaves of cabbage (maybe 100g), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Bouillon powder to taste (start with a teaspoon, I probably added more like 2-3)
  • Water


Fry the onion in the oil in a medium-sized saucepan on a medium heat until starting to soften and brown, add the bouillon powder, carrots, potatoes and top up with water to cover. Turn up heat until simmering, then add the cabbage and cook until that’s done to your liking and the potatoes are cooked. Turn off the heat and add in the garlic (I like to find a balance between stinking of raw garlic, but still being able to taste it, and I find if the garlic gets added earlier it’s not very noticeable, but the residual heat takes the raw edge off. I am pretty garlic-immune these days though!)

I cut up the last bread roll from the batch I baked a few days ago to make croutons, which I fried in a small amount of olive oil, with a sprinkle of salt, smoked paprika and cayenne. This is my new favourite way of using up bread. Strictly speaking the stew hardly has enough liquid to count as a stew, and the croutons rested on a big pile of veg rather than soaking up the liquor, but they added a pleasing contrast in terms of both crunch and flavour. The quinoa was another great addition to make the whole dish a bit more hearty.

I also have bonus croutons left to snack on!

Booze-day Tuesday – Cooking With Beer

Earlier this year I went on holiday to the Lake District. We had lovely weather for almost the whole holiday, and stayed in a couple of pretty nice places. The one slight cloud in my otherwise sunshiny sky was that the small independent offies we visited didn’t seem to know which of the bottles were suitable for vegans in their vast arrays of local beers. However, a very helpful man in Booths supermarket was sure they had some, and almost as soon as we started searching I spotted this beauty.

bottle of stout

Lancaster Black stout. Apparently it’s won awards. It’s certainly very pleasant to drink. I had one or two after enjoying views like this –

lake district blue skies

But I also bought a few bottles home with me. Going through my freezer recently led to the discovery of a mystery sausage. Upon defrosting, I remembered it as a take on Vegan Dad’s veggie lunch meat slicing sausage, to which I’d added some dried porcini mushrooms, and thought a beery hotpot might be nice to come home to this evening so between jobs I put some stuff in a pot…

Stout and Sausage Stew


200g seitan sausage

200g cooked chickpeas

90g (Medium) onion – or more to taste. I only had one left.

125g (2-3 smallish) carrots

140g (2 medium) potatoes

1 400g can tomato chunks

150ml (5 fluid oz, or just over half a cup) stout, or a bit more if you like

1/2 teaspoon of salt or more, to taste

1 teaspoon dried oregano or mixed herbs

2 teaspoons cooking oil


Cut the onion, carrots and potatoes and seitan into chunks. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion. Cook it for a few minutes until it starts to brown then add everything else. Continue to cook on a medium-high heat until it starts bubbling, then lower to a simmer until the potatoes are done.

IMG_20130924_151409 IMG_20130924_151651 IMG_20130924_202222

It was dark when I got home, to explain the particular rubbishness of the last picture, but I was very glad to be able to grab supper almost as soon as I got in. It’s not the most exciting stew in the world, and the beer flavour is not pronounced, but it seems to round out the flavour of the broth and mellow the acidity of the tomato. Over all, this was pleasant to eat following an afternoon’s work and a mile’s walk home. I’d have added some garlic if I’d had some, but then I would always say that!