Sooner or later, all my conversations wind their way around to food. I do talk about other things – the weather also features high; live in Tassie and you understand the immediacy and importance of this topic. But depending on who I’m chatting to, there’s chickens, dogs, flowers, pink nail polish, exercise (or lack thereof) and … food.
B and I caught up over a café breakfast last weekend. She had baked eggs with bright green avocado chunks and pea shoots on top; I had the fanciest banana on toast ever, which I’ll try to copy at home: banana chunks on thick crusty toast with honey, walnut pieces, spices, natural yoghurt and those large ribbons of desiccated coconut. Fabulous!
So, as we looked out the window and watched the sun disappear and the grey descend over Hobart (and it was not even mid-morning!), we talked about what we were cooking to keep ourselves warm. B was going to make her own baked beans, and we discussed molasses versus golden syrup. Molasses being in the recipe, golden syrup being in her pantry.
Which got me thinking about a recipe that was not exactly baked beans, but rather roasted pumpkin and potato mooshed with beans in a tomato-y sauce. It was full of autumnal flavours: rosemary and garlic roasting in with the pumpkin; smoky paprika and chili (my go-to flavourings) in with the tomato.
And the beans? While the recipe specified tinned borlotti beans, I’m not sure if such a thing exists in Hobart, so I used tinned butter beans instead. Their large size was a good match to the chunks of caramelly pumpkin and roasted potato. Even better would have been scarlet runner beans, salvaged from those pods that hide and grow large and starchy. I must ask mum if she has any squirrelled away in a freezer bag.
Anyway, I decided this is a meal definitely worth talking about ... with you! So if we were sitting in a cosy café together, warming ourselves over sencha (me) and cappuccino (you), I’d enthuse over the ‘big’ texture of the roasted potatoes and pumpkin and chunky butter beans. I’d ask if you knew where one could find tinned borlotti beans in Hobart.
I’d tell you to use as much dried chili flakes and smoky paprika as you prefer; or maybe try some fresh chili? And instead of fresh rosemary, you could use another woody herb like sage or thyme; this recipe is very accommodating.
Oh, make sure you use good quality tinned tomatoes, maybe the ones you get from a gourmet grocer’s. Perhaps look for the ones with colourful labels, so you can recycle the tins as herb planters or utensil holders in your kitchen.
Finally I’d tell you this is a hearty but not heavy winter warmer meal, one that doesn’t take that much effort to make. A side of crusty toast and plenty of parsley makes it perfect.
Roast pumpkin and beans
Adapted from She cooks, she gardens. Please visit Erin’s delicious site! She served her pumpkin and beans on toast and with pan-fried haloumi slices on top, which would make this even more fabulous. Makes enough for two or three serves.
- Preheat your oven to 180.
- Take about 500 gms pumpkin (I used the Kent variety) and cut roughly into bite-sized chunks. I left the skin on mine and this wasn’t a problem, but you can peel it if you prefer. Take roughly an equal amount of potato and chunk that too.
- Strip the leaves from a small spring of fresh rosemary. and finely chop.
- Add your vegies and herbs to a large roasting tray, drizzle with some olive oil and add some S&P. Roast until soft and golden (mine took about 40 minutes).
- Towards the end of the roasting time, take a medium saucepan, add a little olive oil and a crushed garlic clove of two and sauté gently. Add a good dash of smoky paprika and dried chili (to your taste).
- Add a tin and a half (which is all I had – use two full tins if you have them!) of good quality tinned whole tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, breaking the tomatoes up with your spoon, but leaving it still thick and chunky.
- Drain a tin of butter beans, add that to the tomato mix and heat thru.
- When the vegies are done roasting and the tomato sauce is ready, add the vegies into the pot of sauce. Using a potato masher, give the lot a bit of a moosh – just enough to mash some of the beans and vegies, but not all. You want to retain some chunkiness (this dish is about texture as well as flavor!).
- Serve with freshly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.