Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa

by Kristin on December 11, 2009

Despite my recent cravings for hearty winter food, I’ve also been craving something with brighter flavors too. This laksa is warming and filling, and the clean flavors are a welcome respite from holiday excesses. Nigel Slater calls it a recipe to “restore and comfort.”

Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa
adapted from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

Serves 4

1 small pumpkin or 1 butternut squash (9 oz/250 g unpeeled weight)
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 red chillies, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
a lump of ginger the size of your thumb, peeled and chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 large bunch of coriander, leaves and stems
a little vegetable oil
2 stalks of dried lemongrass
2 cups (480 ml) ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 x 14-oz (400-ml) can of coconut milk
24 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
4 oz (110 g) dried noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
a large handful of mint leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven too 400°F (200°C). Cut the pumpkin or squash into large chunks and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, then toss well to coat all the pieces in the oil and seasoning. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the spice paste, put the chopped chillies, garlic and ginger into the bowl of a food processor. Add the lime zest and half the coriander leaves and stems. Blitz everything to a pulp, adding a little oil if the mixture needs it to go around.

Place a fairly deep pan over a moderate heat, add half the spice paste (keep the other half in the fridge for another time) and fry it, moving it around the pan so it doesn’t scorch. Do this for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the lemongrass stalks, pour in the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil.

Cut the tomatoes in half, and add them with the nam pla and lime juice. They will take 7 to 10 minutes to cook. Add the chunks of pumpkin or squash and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Place a swirl of cooked noodles in each of the 4 bowls, pour over the laksa and add the mint and remaining coriander leaves.

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