15 September 2013

Curried Seitan Pumpkin Stew

Last weekend my aunt and uncle visited us as a stop on their road trip to Virginia. They brought a number of items that my dad sent us from his garden, including two small pie pumpkins. I looked at those little pumpkins and knew exactly what needed to happen - curried seitan pumpkin stew. Showing Shana the two little pumpkins (and not saying a word), her eyes lit up. She knew what the little pumpkins meant: one of our favorite dinners was going to happen, one that can only happen for a relatively short period of time in the fall.

Shana and I planned to have curried seitan pumpkin stew on Saturday, but we've made a practice of sharing this meal with friends. When talking about which friends we should share with this time around, we talked about a couple with whom I traveled to Jordan over the summer. Although we've hung out with them in groups (and I traveled across the world with them), we thought it would be fun to spend an evening with them. Invitations were extended and accepted, I purchased two more small pumpkins at the farmer's market, and preparations began.

When I say preparations, I mean it. This is NOT a quick meal you can just throw together on a whim. Although it's not particularly complicated, there are a number of ingredients for which you need to plan ahead, and there are long cooking times so you also need at least 3 hours before you want to eat on the day of meal. But all the planning and prep work is so incredibly worth it! These flavors are magnificent together!



Curried Seitan Pumpkin Stew
Ingredients
4 small pie pumpkins (mine were probably 6 inches in diameter)
1 batch of seitan
5-6 medium red potatoes, stew cut
2 medium onions, stew cut
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large green peppers, stew cut
3 large carrots, peeled and stew cut
4 T. oil
4 T. flour
2 tsp. curry powder
3 c. veggie broth (I used Better than Bouillon's Vegetable)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 325.
1. Prepare the pumpkins by cutting off the tops, removing the seeds, and cleaning them out. The top cut should be a bit farther down on the pumpkin, as you'll need to make room to fill them and eat out of them.

Prepared pumpkins, minus stem foil
2. Wrap the stems in foil and place in/on an oven safe dish (I used one 9x13 pyrex and one cookie sheet with a lip all the way around), bake for 1+ hour until just tender.
3. Brown seitan in a large stock pot with a bit of oil (not what is listed above), then remove from pan. Little bits will be stuck, leave them there - they're delicious!
4. Add oil to the same pot then add flour and curry, blend well and let bubble a minute or two.
5. Add the broth to the pot and stir until thick.
6. Add veggies, browned seitan, salt and pepper to the pot, stirring to coat. Cover and simmer for just under an hour, stirring occasionally.

Just added everything in to cook. 
7. When the pumpkins are just tender, scoop the stew into the pumpkins, put the pumpkin lids back on, then cook for another 30 minutes. Extra stew should be kept on the stove on a small burner over the lowest heat setting possible.

This pumpkin is just tender (no stew in it yet).
The color is deeper and you can see slight rounding around the cut.
8. Place each pumpkin on a plate and eat right from the pumpkins (now your bowls), scooping out the flesh of the pumpkin to eat as well.

Helpful Hints
  • For a while, I used to only use one large pumpkin (10-12 inches in diameter) and then would bring it to the table and serve from the pumpkin. If you do this (it's so much easier to clean one pumpkin!), make sure your oven is big enough and that you scoop out some pumpkin for each serving. 
  • If you opt to buy seitan (as opposed to making your own), you should buy about two pounds of it. 
  • You may need to add additional water to the stew while it is simmering on the stove. I added an additional 1/2 c. this time to keep it from getting too dry. 
  • Keep the pumpkins on your oven-safe dishes while they cook. It's very common for one or more of them to start leaking out of the bottom.
  • Fair warning - the stew stays SUPER hot in the pumpkin bowls. De-lid as soon as possible at the table (or even pout some out on your plate). 
  • Save the seeds and roast them the next day! I like to rinse them and add 2 T. melted "butter" and some salt, then roast them at about 300 until they are a bit crunchy. YUM!

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