The ingredients list may look a little daunting, but much of it is likely to be in your cupboards or fridge already.
1 small butternut squash (about 800g), peeled, deseeded and cut into rough 2cm cubes
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a few splashes extra
Fine sea salt and black pepper
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1 orange and a 6cm strip of the peel
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 good pinches of saffron threads
Leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme
150ml dry white wine
400g tin good-quality chopped tomatoes
2 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
A decent pinch of cayenne
600ml-750ml fish stock
700g mixed white fish fillets, cut into rough 3cm chunks (fillets from larger fish should be skinless; sea bass and the like can be left skin-on)
4 handfuls mussels or clams and/or a few large raw prawns (discard any shellfish with cracked shells)
2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
Aioli or mayonnaise, preferably homemade
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
Put the pumpkin cubes in a roasting tin, add a splash of olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and toss together until coated. Roast for 30-35 minutes until soft and just starting to brown around the edges.
While the squash is cooking, heat the 5 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, fennel, bay, orange peel, fennel seeds, saffron and thyme leaves. Sprinkle in 1 tsp salt and leave to sweat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and sweet, but not brown.
Tip in the wine and allow it to bubble away until syrupy, then add the orange juice, chopped tomatoes, paprika, cayenne and 600ml of the fish stock. Leave to bubble for about 20 minutes until rich and reduced, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon occasionally.
Stir in the squash pieces and simmer together for 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash more stock. Taste and add more salt if needed – but bear in mind that the fish and shellfish will add salt of their own and readymade stock cubes and gels can be quite salty.
Add the pieces of white fish, pushing them below the surface of the liquid, scatter any shellfish and prawns on top, then cover with a lid and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through, the shellfish have opened and the prawns are uniformly pink. Discard any shells that remain stubbornly closed.
Combined the chopped parsley and lemon zest.
Pile the stew into bowls, add a sprinkle of the parsley mixture and a splash more olive oil if wanted, then spoon on a blob of aioli and serve with sourdough toast for dunking and mopping.
Lucas Hollweg is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and cook. A former Sunday Times journalist and cookery columnist, he writes for a wide range of food publications. His most recent book is Good Things to Eat.
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