Sam and Sam of Moro have created a dish that epitomizes autumn. Their fragrant Jewelled pumpkin rice recipe (a pilav of sorts) is a vegetarian godsend, but also effortlessly satisfies a carnivore's appetite. I've cooked this many a time, eating the pistachios as I shell them, while the sweet smell of roasting squash fills the kitchen. Without further ado, here it is, just slightly modified - I had a few Merguez sausages in the fridge.
- 500g peeled and seeded butternut, or other winter, squash, cut into dice
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- big pinch of saffron
- 100g unsalted butter
- 2 Merguez sausages, chopped (leave out for vegetarian version)
- cinnamon stick
- 4 allspice berries, crushed
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced across the grain
- 15g currants
- 50g shelled pistachios
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (freshly podded and ground if possible)
- 300g basmati rice, soaked in tepid, salted water for 1 hour
- 450ml vegetable/bouillon stock
Heat the remaining butter in a medium pan with the cinnamon and allspice until it foams, then add the onion and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to colour. Add the currants, pistachios, and cardamom, and cook for 10 minutes more, until the onion is golden and sweet.
Drain the rice and add it to the pan, stirring for a minute or two before pouring in the stock. Taste for seasoning, scatter with the roasted squash, cover with greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid, and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Remove the lid and greaseproof paper, and drizzle with the buttery saffron water. Replace the lid and leave to rest, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes.
Recipe credit: p192, Moro East, by Sam and Sam Clark (Ebury Press).