I warned you that June was going to be the month of the pumpkin, but this is only the second pumpkin recipe i've given you. The wintry snap changed to mild, balmy weather, and it has seemed more like spring, so my need for the comfort of a pumpkin has not been so intense. However when i got out the Dunsandel Store cookbook last week to find the 'Sicilian Apple Cake' recipe, the book fell open at the page for this one. I first tried this recipe last winter, and it the husband and i enjoyed it so much that i made it regularly throughout the winter months. Having reminded myself of the existence of this recipe, it seems only appropriate to share it with you.
I also happened to have a single leek sitting in my garden, so this seemed the perfect way to use it. I really like leeks, and tend to use as much of the green part as possible, i think in part because if i went to the effort of growing it, i want to use as much as i can. And if it is a bought leek, well, i paid good money for the green parts as well as the white, so i definitely want to use them! I do cut off and throw away the toughest outer leaves, and usually trim a little off the top of all but the most tender inner leaves, but that's it. The husband, on the other hand, prefers to use the bottom white part only. I suspect it is because the bottom white part doesn't need washing, whereas there is often some dirt trapped in among the green part of the leaves. It's really not that hard to wash out though - I slice the white parts, then when i'm getting to the "dirt zone" i slice the remaining leek lengthwise, then take each half to the sink and rinse between the leaves. No problem.
I'm often a bit suspicious of recipes which have kernels of corn floating round in them. I'm not sure why, but it just seems wrong. However the corn works really well in this recipe. I use canned corn, as freezing home-grown corn just seems wasteful. Corn grown in the garden needs to be eaten fresh, in my opinion, and freezing it is akin to wasting it. I usually have a can of whole-kernel corn in the pantry, for use in this dish, or for making "Creamy Swedish Cabbage Roll", another recipe i will share with you at some stage.
I've changed the recipe below slightly, but not enough to claim it as my own.
GRATIN of PUMPKIN and LEEK
From "A Year's Worth; Recipes from the Dunsandel Store", with minor changes.
Serves 4 as a main course
1/2 large pumpkin (approx 2kg), peeled and diced
coconut oil for roasting
1 leek, white and green parts finely sliced
400g can of whole kernel corn
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 generous tsp thyme leaves
salt and cracked black pepper
3 slices wholemeal bread, toasted and finely diced
1/3 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
40g of butter
1&1/2 cups brown lentils
1/4 cup cream
Preheat the oven to 180 deg Celsius. Melt the coconut oil in a roast dish, then add the chopped pumpkin and toss to coat. Season with salt and roast for 20 minutes until just tender. Melt the butter and slowly cook the leeks until soft and slightly translucent. Add the corn, cream, wine, mustard and thyme to the leeks and cook very gently for 15 minutes. Meanwhile rinse your lentils and cook them at a low simmer for approximately 30 minutes. You want them to be tender but not falling apart. Remove from heat when cooked, drain and set aside, still in their pot.
Season the leek mixture with salt and cracked black pepper, then fold in the pumpkin and transfer to a wide ovenproof dish.
Combine the bread and walnuts and rub butter into the mix. Scatter this over the pumpkin mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until the top browns.
When almost ready to serve, add the cream to the lentils and heat over a low heat until warmed through and the cream is slightly thickened.
To serve, place a large spoonful of pumpkin gratin in the middle of each plate and spoon the lentils around the side. Otherwise you can present it as a vegetable side dish and not bother with the lentils.