I don’t want to put too much of a sordid visual into your imagination here, but I was really hanging out of my arse with covid when I made this for the first time.
And not that I want to make too much of a habit of hanging a recipe’s merit on its simplicity, given that I love spending time in the kitchen, but it really is one of those recipes that demands zero labour, and is all the better for it.
I was teetering on the edge of full health when I made this, so was not feeling something huge to eat, I just needed full-throttle flavour to reignite my waning taste buds, so in theory this serves its purpose in a few ways: as a small, warm salad for lunch, or it could be bolstered on the side of something more substantial like a roast chicken or some roast fish. Would also be good tossed through some thick pasta.
I did go to the effort of making the pesto from scratch, wanting the herbal fug of sage against the sharp salty goats’ cheese (I repeat, I wanted all the flavours here) but there would be nothing stopping you from using a premade pesto, and don’t feel bad about it either.
Of course, I would also recommend any homemade pesto here, doesn’t have to be this sage version, but you do need something sharp and salty to contrast against the almost honeyed creaminess of the pumpkin and butterbeans. So, if you do opt for a premade pesto, give it a taste first and see if you’d prefer to bring it to life with your own squeeze of lemon, or perhaps some parmesan on top.
I also, cannot leave you here, without letting you know about leftovers. I cooked this for the first time when I was isolating, so while the measurements below serve two, I was solo in my endeavour. So, I had half a tray of pesto drenched pumpkin and butterbeans. I emptied this into a wide jug, added a little vegetable stock and blitzed the mix with a hand processor, adding more vegetable stock as I needed to make it a silky, vivid orange soup with thick streaks of pesto running through it.
Genuinely worth making just to have the soup for leftovers.
For the pesto (makes approx. 300ml pesto)
50g skinless almonds
50g fresh basil
50g fresh sage
1 garlic clove
60g soft goat’s cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
For the pumpkin and butterbeans
2 small pumpkins – approx. 800g – 1kg
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 x 400g can butterbeans – drained
- For the pesto, carefully toast the almonds in a dry frying pan by shaking them about on a medium heat, just for a few minutes until they are golden.
- Fling the nuts into the bowl of a food processor and then add the basil, sage, garlic, cheese, and a small pinch of salt. Blitz until you have a fragrant, nubbly mix.
- Half the lemon and squeeze the juice into the processor (mind the pips) and then run the motor again on a slow speed. Carefully remove the little lit at the top of the processor and slowly add in the olive oil, watching the mixture amalgamate into a runny yet still gritty paste.
- Taste for seasoning, a pesto is very much a matter of taste, and you may feel you want to add a little salt depending on how salty your pesto is. If you like your pesto slightly runnier, you can add a little water, just a tablespoon at a time, until you get your desired consistency. Just remember more water dilutes flavour so taste often and adjust as you need.
- Scrape the pesto into a container and keep in the fridge until you need it – it will keep in the fridge for a week.
- When you’re ready to make the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Halve the pumpkins and remove the seeds with a spoon. Slice down on the pumpkins so that you have handfuls of little half-moons. Put the pumpkin in a large bowl.
- Grate the orange over the bowl with a fine grater, halve the orange, and squeeze over the juice (mind the pips).
- Add the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and a little salt and pepper. Stir the pumpkin so that each slice is thoroughlu coated.
- Using a spoon, transfer the pumpkin slices over to a roasting tray leaving a puddle of gritty orange scented paste in the bowl. Pop the pumpkin in the oven for 30 minutes.
- As soon as you put the pumpkin in the oven, add the drained butterbeans to the bowl and stir, coating the beans in the garlicky orange paste.
- After 30 minutes, remove the pumpkin from the oven, spoon over the coated butterbeans, and add the tray back to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve with big gloopy drizzles of the sage and goats cheese pesto.