Sunday, 27 September 2009

At Home: Jewelled pumpkin rice

As autumn leaves begin to fall, and dark evenings creep upon us, I start thinking about comforting and earthy flavours: warm spices, golden roots, orchard harvests, funghi and slow-cooked beasts. Pork belly roast with British apples, a hearty beef stew, spicy curries, and risottos - these are some of my favourite autumn foods.

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.

Serves 4-6
  • 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
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees centigrade/Gas 8. Toss the squash with half of the salt and the olive oil. Spread in a baking tray, and roast for 30 minutes. Mix the saffron with 3 tbsp boiling water, and add 25g of the butter. Set aside.

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).

1 comment:

  1. Hello Laura,

    I just discovered your blog through London Food and Drink. My name is Bethany and I write the blog here in London as well. A few other bloggers and I are organizing a conference on Food Blogging on the 28th of November, 2009 in London.

    We would love it if you could join us. Depending on the number of food bloggers who RSVP, we hope to also have guest speakers talking about relevant issues to Food Blogging such as “How To Improve On Food Photography” or “What Makes A Good Food Blog” amongst others. In any case, it will be an opportunity to meet other food bloggers, some of which are coming from France, Germany and even India, and network, eat delicious food and have a good laugh.

    For more information please visit

    We hope to see you there.

    Bethany and the other organisers; Mowie Kay- Mowielicious, Jamie Schler- Life’s a Feast and Hilda Saffari- Saffron & Blueberry