I am no fan of pumpkin pie. I know, it’s probably Un-American to admit that the dessert most featured on Thanksgiving tables is the one I’ll go to great lengths to avoid. But in my quest a few years ago to find a dessert other than pumpkin to prepare for the holiday, I happened upon a stew in Bon Appetit which called for puréed pumpkin, which is of course, a pumpkin pie essential.
According to James Beard award-winning cookbook author Clifford A. Wright, pumpkins and other winter squash were imported from the New World to Spain and other Mediterranean countries. The Catalan region of Spain, where Barcelona is located, provides one culinary example for using this versatile squash. I’ve reworked the original recipe, adding curry and coconut milk to do a bit of globetrotting. Puréed pumpkin adds natural sweetness to this stew.
Rich and hearty, you might even forget its distant relationship to a holiday dessert.
Chicken and Pumpkin Curry Stew Recipe
6 T olive oil, divided
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, diced into 1″ pieces
2 cups diced onion
2 T ginger, minced
2 T garlic, minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 29 oz can Libby 100% Pure Pumpkin Purée (you can find this in the baking aisle)
6 cups low salt vegetable broth
2 cups unsweetened Lite Coconut Milk
1 1/2 T curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bag new white potatoes, scrubbed and halved
1 butternut squash, cut into four sections, seeded, and roasted per instructions below. Recipe requires two (2) cups. Reserve unused portion for another use.
1 T fresh lime juice
minced cilantro to garnish
To Roast Squash:
Heat oven to 400°F. Place squash quarters, cut side up, on baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 45 minutes, or until squash pricks easily with fork, but is still firm.
When cool to touch, remove flesh from rind, and dice into 1 inch pieces. Reserve unused portion for another use.
To Prepare Stew:
In large Dutch oven, heat 4 T oil over medium heat. Brown chicken. Remove to clean bowl. Add remainder of oil and add onion and ginger, sautéing until soft, not browned. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Stir in tomatoes with juices and pumpkin purée. Cook, stirring frequently, about 8-10 minutes. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, potatoes, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 35 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and onion begins to melt into the sauce.
Add butternut squash and chicken, stirring gently to combine. Simmer until warmed, about 5 minutes. Just before serving, stir in lime juice.
Serve in bowls, garnished with cilantro.
This hearty stew is wonderful paired with a simple tomato, avocado, and sprout salad accompanied by cinnamon-sugar crisps. Serve with icy beer or a rich pinot noir. The leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.