Pumpkin, Bean and Lentil Stew

This is such a lovely dish to combat the cold weather – hearty and healthy comfort food. Although it takes a little while to make, it requires minimal attention. It also freezes very well, so it’s a great one to make in bulk at the weekend and then finish off later in the week.

If you can’t get hold of a pumpkin (or, heaven forbid, aren’t a pumpkin fan) you can easily substitute it for a butternut squash.

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Ingredients (serves 4):
– 1 pumpkin (about 1kg)
– 1 onion, roughly chopped
– 2 sticks celery, topped, tailed and roughly chopped
– 1 leek, washed and cut into rings
– 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– ½ jar red pesto
– 1 tin chopped tomatoes
– 1 large glass red wine
– 750ml vegetable stock
– 150g puy lentils
– 400g tin butterbeans
– 400g cannellini beans
– large handful fresh sage, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C. Wash the pumpkin, chop it into chunks and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon; don’t bother peeling it – once it’s roasted the skin will come away easily. Place into a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, put the onion, celery, leek and garlic into a large pan along with a splash of olive oil (you can also add a big knob of butter if you’re feeling indulgent). Cook on a low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, until softened.

3. Stir in the pesto, tomatoes, red wine, stock and lentils. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about an hour to reduce. Stir every 20 minutes or so to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

4. Peel the pumpkin skin away from the flesh. Discard the skin and add the pumpkin to the pot along with the butterbeans and cannellini beans.

5. Stir through the sage and season to taste. Serve with soda bread.

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