This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson‘s wonderful new book Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel. I got my copy a little later than most people, as I was waiting for the Australian version to come out… I figured I might as well support the local publishers that released it, so that they publish more of Heidi’s books in the future! When I finally did get it last month I’ve spent my time working my way through it, enjoying the beautiful photography and the delicious and innovative recipes.
Near and Far is separated into recipes inspired by Heidi’s home in San Francisco, as well as those inspired by her travels to Morocco, Italy, Japan, France and India. Heidi has taken traditional flavours and techniques and put her own spin on things, using her beloved whole foods and plant-based ingredients.
Kirk and I have traveled to Japan a few times and have a strong connections to its culture and food. I was so excited to make my way through the Near and Far Japan chapter, taking mental notes of what to try first. Amongst them I found this recipe for simmered pumpkin, which stood out due to its interesting twist on traditional ingredients.
I first remember eating simmered pumpkin in a small vegetarian eatery in Tokyo. It was one of those hole-in-wall wonders that was full of eclectic knick-knacks. The owner didn’t speak English but served simmered pumpkin as part of a set meal. Set meals are my favourite way to eat in Japan because you get a little sampling of a few different things on offer at a cafe… Pretty helpful if you don’t speak the language!
Simmered Pumpkin is a simple dish of skin-on pumpkin that is cooked in a light dashi stock. Heidi has used lemon zest and spring onions to brighten up the dish, which I love! The addition of white beans also makes this traditional dish more substantial and hold up on its own. It’s a beautiful variation on the classic and I encourage you to give it a go!
Near and Far is a beautiful book and my most anticipated of this year. It is deeply personal and anecdotal, and straddles that line between art book and cookbook. I highly recommend seeking it out. I am looking forward to cooking my way through the rest of it! Xx
Simmered Pumpkin with White Beans
Choose a pumpkin that has skin that is edible upon cooking, such as japonica, kabocha squash or other Japanese varietals. This dish traditionally leaves the skin on for structure, so don’t peel it. I’ve added root ginger to this recipe because it’s in season and I had some in my fridge, but feel free to leave it out if you prefer. Use your favourite bean – I’ve used butter beans but any large creamy white bean will do. Just a reminder that I use Australian 20ml tablespoons, you can use 2 US/UK/NZ tbls for every 1.5 tbls called for if needed.
Slightly adapted from Simmered Pumpkin in Near and Far by Heidi Swanson.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Simmered Pumpkin with White Beans
1kg pumpkin (I use japonica)
500ml vegetable stock or water
1.5 tbls tamari (+ more to serve)
1.5 tbls coconut sugar
1.5 tbls mirin
1-2 tsp grated root ginger
300g | 1.5 cups cooked white beans (canned is fine, drained and rinsed)
1.5 tbls olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
2 spring onions, finely sliced.
Sea salt, to taste
Thoroughly wash and dry your pumpkin before halving it, removing the seeds and then cutting it up into 4cm pieces.
In a large wide saucepan, combine the stock, sugar, tamari, mirin and ginger and stir till sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust if desired, by adding more tamari for example. Add the pumpkin and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, till the pumpkin flesh is cooked through and the skin is easily pierced.
Add the beans and heat through before removing pumpkin and beans with a slotted spoon. Place in a large bowl or platter and top with olive oil, lemon zest, and onions. Taste and add additional tamari or salt, if desired (Heidi says this will depend on the sweetness of your pumpkin).
Serve with brown rice, or as part of a Japanese-inspired meal.