I know that a stew may seem a strange recommendation now that spring is doing its best to gambol into view, but trust me, this is no wintry rib-sticker. This easy-to-make one potter is packed with the flavour of sunny Spain, with the smoky chorizo giving an unmistakeably Iberian air to the dish. The sweetness of the tender chunks of squash marries beautifully with the deeply savoury salty smokiness of the sausage and the sweet but tangy tomatoes, and rosemary nestles in deliciously with it all. Once cooked the reds and oranges flecked with green are about as sunny as you can get. We eat it chez Farrow just as it comes, spooning it up greedily while it's generally still too hot, but we have been known to go very much the whole hog and have it with fresh, crusty bread, while rice or cous cous are good too, particularly saffron-infused rice which adds another rather Spanish dimension. We like it because it's very easy to make, and just as easy to enjoy.
(serves two very heartily if unaccompanied or four with rice etc.)
- 1 small butternut squash or ½ of a large one (you can use other squash, but we've found that butternut is best)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 150g chorizo, cut into rounds or diced (you can use cooking or eating chorizo, and you can add more than this if you love it)
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp hot or sweet smoked paprika (optional)
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp rosemary, chopped (optional)
- 1 empty tomato tin or so of water
- 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube or pot
- Salt and black pepper
- A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- Peel the butternut squash, cut it in half and deseed with a spoon. Cut the peeled, deseeded squash into bite-sized chunks.
- Slice the chorizo (it doesn't matter how thickly or thinly, that's up to you) or dice it.
- Heat a large saucepan over a moderate heat, add the olive oil and once the oil is hot add the chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo is releasing its glorious orange-red oil into the pan, then add the onions. Stir and cook the mixture for a few minutes until the onions are just beginning to soften. If you love the flavour of smoked paprika add the optional teaspoonful mentioned in the ingredients (we do because we're fiends for the stuff, and often use the spicier hot version to pep up the stew, but you don't have to).
- Add the squash pieces and stir well.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, fill the tin with water and add that too. The water and tomatoes should just cover the squash, so add a little more water if necessary. Bring up to a simmer.
- Once simmering, add the stock cube/pot and stir until incorporated.
- Add the rosemary if using.
- Simmer over a gentle heat until the squash chunks are tender. You'll see that the squash has absorbed a fair bit of the liquid, thickening the sauce quite naturally. Taste it and add seasoning as you see fit.
- Serve in warmed bowls and scatter with parsley.
If you want to make a veggie version of the dish then drop the chorizo, add another teaspoonful or more of the paprika and run with some white beans or chickpeas, or perhaps some roasted chunks of red, yellow or green peppers, or even some roasted aubergine. It's very forgiving in terms of what you can add or takeaway as well as for the cooking time. It also makes for a very fine soup if there are leftovers that you can blend it up with a dash more stock and a swirl of sour cream in the bowl as you serve.
While this is not a Spanish dish per se, the chorizo sausage hits a note that naturally suits some of its compatriot wine. The red fruit, clever oak and spice of Navajas Crianza Rioja, the bigger, bolder Parcelas Ecológico Monastrell, Yecla and the berry-fruited Aranleón Sólo Bobal, Utiel Requena (the last two from the sun-drenched south-east) will all work well. Bold, generously fruity and not a little spicy, zinfandels can please here too. The Society's California Old-Vine Zinfandel and Shenandoah Amador County Zinfandel will step up with aplomb.
Rosé wines fit nicely into the middle here and the Señorio de Sarria Rosado, Navarra or the fuller, richer Tavel Cuvée Prima Donna Rosé, Domaine Maby will play that role at the drier end while the sweeter Rosé d'Anjou Gamay-Grolleau, Famille Bougrier, though lighter than the other two, can offer a touch of sweetness to match to the squash.
Two whites that can carry the similarly sweet squash are the delicious Orvieto Classico Amabile, Barberani, a wine of medium-sweetness from the heart of Italy, and the McManis Viognier from California, full, peachy and generous. Finally, should you want to enjoy a glass without guilt, how about the grapey, fresh and non-alcoholic Torres Natureo De-alcoholised Muscat, with its own touch of sweet fruit? All in all, think generously fruity wines, perhaps with a touch of spice but always plenty of fruit.