This delicious stewed vegetable dish from Andalusia is traditionally consumed during lent but I find it is also a wonderfully soothing and warming dish during the winter time, and this is also the time when the season brings along its core ingredients. Rich flavors give away the Moorish origin and the slightly spicy quince and dulcet pumpkin combine just beautifully.
The ingredients are prepared separately and then brought together at the end, so they keep their shape and distinct taste. The dish is originally made with eggplant, but I replaced it with zucchini because I just do not like eggplant very much. I believe it worked very well with the zucchini. Naturally, you can replace the zucchini back with eggplant.
This is quite a labor-intensive dish with a long preparation time, but you can spread the preparation over two days, preparing the quince and the pumpkin one day ahead.
Ingredients (serves 6 to 8):
- 1 red kuri (Japanese) squash
- 2 large pear quinces
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes
- olive oil
- 1 large zucchini (or 1 large eggplant), diced
- 1/2 Spanish onion, diced
- 2 green (bell) peppers, membranes and seeds removed & diced
- 5 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- freshly ground pepper, salt
- 800 grams of vine tomato
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
- Peeling pumpkin is rather daunting but here is a little trick: Put the whole pumpkin into the oven at 100 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes, let cool down a bit and then peel and cut into quarters while still warm. Remove the seeds and cut the flesh into dices.
- The same trick applies to quinces which are probably even more daunting to peel. However, they only require approximately 10 to 15 minutes in the hot oven before peeling; do remove them before the skin turns brown. Peel, cut in quarters and remove seeds. Then dice the quince as well.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- In a large mixing bowl, pour olive oil over the pumpkin generously, add the salt flakes and mix. Then spread the pumpkin on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- On another baking tray lined wit parchment paper, spread the quince.
- Bake both the quince and the pumpkin in the oven for approximately 20 – 30 minutes until soft (the pumpkin should not become so soft that it disintegrates). Then set aside.
- Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil frying pan, heat up on medium to high heat and then add the zucchini. Fry for approximately 7 to 8 minutes until soft but still retaining bite. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan or wok, heat up 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the onion and sauté for approximately 5 minutes until soft (the onion should not pick up color). Add the pepper, bay leaves, cumin, fennel seed, and season with freshly ground pepper and salt. Reduce the heat to low to medium, cover and let cook for approximately 30 minutes until very soft.
- In the meantime, peel and seed the tomatoes as follows: Wash the tomatoes and make a cross-shaped incision at the bottom tip of each tomato. In a large sauce-pot, bring approximately 2 liters of water to the boil. Prepare a large bowl with cold water on the side. When the water is boiling, turn off the heat. Place the tomatoes in the hot water for approximately 1 minute. Take out of the hot water e.g. with a skimming ladle and transfer to the cold water. Let cool down briefly, then peel of the skin from the incision at the bottom tip with a sharp knife. Cut the peeled tomatoes into halves and remove the seeds with a teaspoon.
- Add the tomatoes to the onion and pepper mix and cook for approximately 5 minutes while frequently stirring/tossing. Add the roasted pumpkin, quinces and zucchini. Let warm through properly. Do not stir too much anymore to prevent the pumpkin from disintegrating. At the end, sprinkle in the parsley and season with more freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.
Best consumed lukewarm, but also delicious cold!