There is a sense of loss when summer fades away, not just for the sunshine but for its freshly picked, life-enhancing produce; but these two vegetables, kale and pumpkin, and a few others (leeks definitely, roots maybe) almost turn autumn and winter into something to look forward to. This dish has so many of my favourite vegetables and flavours in it I almost fall over with excitement making it for the first time each year. I love the way the combination of gingered kale, mashed pumpkin and lemon cream strays deep into comfort food territory, the texture of walnuts reins it in and the explosive chllll-heat of the aubergine rolls wakes your tastebuds, screaming. I was as surprised as anyone when this dish evolved into this Incarnation. I was originally trying to do something clever with mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. Deconstructed colcannon or some such nonsense. You will need very good pumpkins, deep orange in colour, sweet and with dry, dense flesh. We have an abundant supply, from the heroic
YOU WILL NEED a pumpkin, or pumpkins, of at least
Heat some cooking oil in a pan and cook the onion with the ginger, garlic and chilli for a few minutes until the onion is soft. Then add in the tomatoes, wine and shoyu. Use the tomato puree only if the tomatoes are not ripe and, well, tomato-flavoured. Bring this up to the boil and simmer it until the tomatoes have broken down to a rich, thick sauce. If you use tinned tomatoes leave out the juice. Cook the kale in boiling water until just done, drain it, chop it into bite-size pieces and add it to the tomato sauce.
Lightly oil the insides of the rings and place them on baking parchment on oven trays. Put a layer of the gingered kale into each one, slice the walnuts and scatter them over the kale, then put a layer of pumpkin mash on top. Bake for about 20 minutes at about 400°F (Gas Mark 6), until the pumpkin starts to brown. Lift a gratin to a (very close) plate with a slice, run the back of a knife between the gratin and the steel ring and lift the ring off. Pour some lemon-cumin cream around each one, then garnish with the aubergine rolls - three each is perfect but chilli fiends will gobble any spares.
HEAT THE STOCK in a pan with the onion and garlic cloves and simmer it for ten minutes or so, until it has reduced to
TRIM THE SIDES of the aubergines by taking a thin lengthways slice off opposite sides. Now cut fairly thin slices, lengthways again, about 5mm thick - you should get six slices from an average aubergine. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and roast them on oven trays until cooked through and very lightly coloured. Stir enough ground almonds into the sambal to make a thick spread. It is not possible to be completely accurate about these measurements - what you need is a spread with a consistency something like soft peanut butter. Use a butter knife to spread a thin layer on each cooked aubergine slice, then roll up the slices. The aubergine rolls need only to be warmed through, so put them in the oven for the last five minutes of the gratins’ cooking time, or put them in for the few minutes that you are allowing the gratins to cool before serving.
© 1999 All rights reserved. Published by Cork University Press.