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The Food Issue
Pumpkin recipe (Globe photo / Jim Scherer)
By Lisa Zwirn
November 7, 2010

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Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Tagine Serves 6 to 8

Chef Alia Radjeb Meddeb, owner of the Baraka Cafe in Cambridge’s Central Square, recommends braising this stew in a clay pot or a tagine, and serving it over rice or couscous.

1 5-pound baking pumpkin

2 bunches Swiss chard, thick stems cut out, leaves torn or cut into 3-inch pieces

Peel of 1/2 lemon, cut into strips

1/3 cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon turmeric

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more, to taste

Salt and black pepper

3 cups cooked dried chickpeas (or 2 15-ounce cans)

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Set the oven at 350 degrees. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Place the pumpkin, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Bake until the pumpkin is just tender when pricked with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, skin the pumpkin and cut into 2-inch chunks.

In a pot of boiling water, cook the chard for 1 minute. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add the lemon peel and simmer 1 minute. Drain and repeat. (Blanching removes the bitterness.) Drain and set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. In a large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to turn golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and ½ cup of the cilantro. Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, cayenne, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin, chard, lemon peel, chickpeas, and 2½1/2 cups of water. Transfer the stew to a tagine or a clay pot, if using; otherwise cover the cooking pot and place it in the oven. Bake until bubbling hot, about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Stir in the remaining 1/2½ cup of cilantro and the parsley. The stew shouldn’t be soupy, but if it needs more liquid, add a little water. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve hot.

Lisa Zwirn is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine’s food issues. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.