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Roasted Pumpkin with Moroccan Chermoula

Autumn is harvest time, and therefore the best season for vegetables. It’s the start of the root vegetable season, and also means squashes which must be pulled up before the first frosts. It only takes one surprise frost, and they’re all rotten! Combine this with the fact that this is the time for Britain’s apples and pears to be harvested, and it really is an exciting time for organic fresh, seasonal, local produce.

For those of you in any doubt about this, just compare the taste of a supermarket apple flown in from New Zealand with one of the many varieties of local English apples around at this time. I was shopping at Borough Market recently when I was lucky enough to intercept a van of organically grown apples from a farm in Kent. There were six different varieties of apple alone, and the indulgent stallholder let me try them side-by-side. So many different flavours; delicate, tart, sweet, refreshing. There is just no comparison for this experience on a fresh Autumn morning, warming your back against the last embers of the fading summer sun.

Middle Eastern cuisine reflects the season’s mood so well. As Summer becomes Autumn, the warming and ever-so-slight bitterness Arabic spices staves off the new chill in the air. It may seem a little poetic, but a formative principle of macrobiotics is to balance tastes for particular times of year. I’ve found by experience that Moroccan and North African flavours feel just right.

Roasted Pumpkin with Moroccan Chermoula
(serves 4)

Chermoula is a paste made of fresh herbs that’s used throughout Northern Africa to marinate fish. It goes beautifully with the sweetness of the pumpkin, made sweeter by roasting, married with the slight astringency of fresh coriander. This recipe is absolutely effortless to make. It’s a meal in itself served with freshly baked cornbread.

For the Roasted Pumpkin:

1/2 a medium sized pumpkin (de-seeded)
4 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the Chermoula:

1 shallot
1 large clove garlic
1/2 small red chilli (deseeded)
Handful of fresh coriander and parsley
Generous slug of olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Chop the pumpkin into 2 cm cubes and mix with the olive oil on a baking tray, seasoning well. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, stirring once to assure even cooking.

Whilst the pumpkin is roasting assemble the chermoula by blending or finely chopping all the ingredients and mixing well – these two different techniques will produce surprisingly different flavours as well as consistencies. I favour chopping, as crushing herbs makes a slightly bitter aftertaste.

For more information about Adam Keen, go to imkeenon.co.uk/

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