Simple and sustaining, this is a comforting dish for dark winter evenings. Very long cooking may cause the pumpkin to collapse, but the flavour will still be good. Don’t leave out the sage leaves; they add depth to the casserole.
Put the beans into a large pan, cover with 3 times their volume of water and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer until the beans are just soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their age. Season with a little salt in the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain the beans and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy pan and fry the sausages, turning and stirring, for 10 minutes to brown them lightly. Lift out the sausages, put in the onion and bacon or salt pork and fry until the onion starts to colour. Stir in the garlic and spices, add the pumpkin and fry for 5 minutes, so that it colours on all sides. Add the sage leaves, tomatoes and beans and mix all the ingredients together gently. Season with salt and pepper, put back the sausages, burying them in the beans. Pour over enough boiling water just to cover. Cover with a lid and simmer over a low heat or put into the oven preheated to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2 for 1—1½ hours, or longer. It is important to give time for the flavours to blend. If the casserole becomes too dry, top it up with a little more water. Stir in the parsley and serve.
© 2005 Jill Norman. All rights reserved.