(Original version posted on blog van Brambonius in dutch on October 6th, 2011, this version is slightly edited. Dutch version here)
Late last summer, just before the frost killed off everything, I managed to find the time to try a recipe that I had been wanting to do for a long time, but I hadn’t been able to find the right moment for it yet: an African stew of pumpkin leaves with peanut . Today I made a variation on the same recipe for my family, and it was very well received and apparently it was worth repeating, so I though to also post it here.
About the most specific main ingredient: pumpkin and zucchini leaves (actually all edible varieties of Cucurbita pepo, C. maxima and C. moschata, but in Africa leaves of other species like gourds are eaten too) are very edible, though it is not very well-known over here. In Africa, however there are more dishes based on it, and it is a cheap, tasty and original dish if you have some pumpkin plants in your garden, and a nice extra from your pumpkin patch, apart from the pumpkin harvest itself.
Young leaves are preferred since older leaves can get quite tough, and in fact you can use all the young parts of plants, including young stems and flower buds. Wash them very thorough. If you don’t have any pumpkin leaves want to try this recipe nonetheless, you can still use other leafy vegetables, although the flavor will be a bit different probably. In the African cuisine amaranth leaves are used as an alternative in this recipe, but I think spinach, tree spinach or beet greens will also work fine.
The variation on chicken satay here is one that I invented on the spot. I vaguely had ordinary satay from the supermarket in mind, but also Japanese yakitori. The use of a baby pumpkin (just a very young immature pumpkin, the size of a peach), adds a special touch. The taste is somewhere between pumpkin and zucchini if you harvest it young enough. This year I didn’t just use a baby yellow pumpkin, but a young fruit of an accidental cross between zucchini and spaghetti squash from seed that I had saved from a spaghetti squash last year. (See photo left. Taking pumpkin seed yourself without precautions against intercrossing is not the best idea if you have more varieties. Both varieties are Cucurbita pepo and can easily cross, and crosses between pumpkin varieties can be very tasty, or disappointing in terms of edibility. This one was good and fitted perfectly into the dish.)
ingredients for 2 persons:
1 medium tomato
salt and pepper
1/2 chicken breast
1 half peppers
Japanese soy sauce
Pumpkin Leaves-peanut stew:
Wash the pumpkin leaves thoroughly, chop them into small pieces, and fill about three quarters of your pot with it. Then add chopped onion to it, and let simmer for a while with a minimum of water with your pot closed. when the vegetables are tender and cooked thoroughly, add the tomatoes, chopped into small pieces, and season with curry powder, salt and pepper. Keep it on the fire until the tomato is tender (add a little water if necessary) and then add 2 tablespoons peanut butter) You better put the heat lower, and now stir continuously and let simmer a bit.
Cut the chicken breast into cubes, and let marinate for at least 15 minutes in a mixture of Japanese soy sauce, chicken spices, a little white wine, salt and pepper. Cut the baby pumpkin into very thin slices, and do the same with half the pepper.(The second time I made this recipe I used onions instead of paprika, and that works well too!)
Thread the chicken cubes on a satay stick alternated with one time a narrow slice of pumpkin baby, the other time a slice of pepper or onion. These skewers are then baked in the pan until tender.
Just prepare it as you are used to. I like it with sticky rice.
Serve with a nice red wine!