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Pumpkin White Bean Stew

October 18, 2010

By Brianne Harrison

When you say “October” I immediately think “pumpkins”. The ubiquitous gourds start arriving in September, and almost immediately visions of pies, muffins, and an enormously comforting stew come to mind. This is what my mother used to make for me to eat when I got back from trick-or-treating as a kid. It’s delicious, and highly adaptable, depending on your tastes and the spices you have on hand. I’ve made curried versions, tossed in cauliflower and some peas I needed to use up, mixed in some potatoes and other squash—go nuts! I will admit, the prep takes a bit of time and effort, but this is a dish that’s better a day or two after it’s made, so cook up a big batch on the weekend or whenever you have time to gut a pumpkin, and serve it up when you’re pressed for time.

 

Pumpkin White Bean Stew with Kale

1 medium-sized pumpkin

2 32-oz packages chicken or vegetable stock

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed, or ½ cup dried beans, soaked overnight

1 T garam masala

1 medium-sized yellow onion, sliced crosswise

3 cloves garlic, minced

2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Olive oil

½ T butter (optional)

1 small bunch kale, spinach, or Swiss chard (optional), chopped

½-1 T honey (optional)

Salt and pepper

 

Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and strings. Rinse the seeds and keep them for roasting. Cut the pumpkin into sections and peel it (you can use a regular vegetable peeler for this, unless you have a pumpkin with a very thick rind. Then a paring knife might be in order.) Cut the peeled sections into edible chunks.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter with enough olive oil to coat the bottom (if you prefer to omit butter, just use the olive oil). Once it’s hot, add the onions and sauté until they turn a creamy white color, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the pumpkin and the stock, and mix in the garam masala and ginger. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Add the white beans and stir. Stir in the greens, season, and taste the stew. If you want it a bit sweeter, add a little honey (I find this helps to bring out the taste of the pumpkin). Serve the stew hot with warm, crusty bread.

 

Healthy Roundup:

Pumpkin is low in fat and calories and is very high in vitamins A and C and the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may help protect against certain cancers. It’s also loaded with potassium, fiber, and immune system booster zinc (and who doesn’t need that now that cold and flu season is around the corner?)

White beans are high in folate, tryptophan (which helps you sleep at night), manganese, dietary fiber, and protein. Studies have shown that a diet high in legumes like white beans is associated with an 82% reduction in heart attack risk due to its high levels of folate, magnesium, and potassium. The dietary fiber in beans helps stabilize your blood sugar (providing steady, slow-burning energy), and the iron, copper, and manganese also help with energy production, in addition to contributing antioxidants.

Garam masala, one of the staple spice blends in Indian cuisine, is typically made from cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, and cinnamon. Cinnamon is anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, and it may help boost brain function. Cumin is an excellent source of iron, and it aids digestion. Coriander helps control blood sugar and it also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps lower cholesterol.

Kale (and many other greens) is high in vitamins K, A, and C, as well as manganese, dietary fiber, and copper. It’s loaded with antioxidants and provides heart health benefits and may lower the risk of certain cancers.

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