Vegan MoFo Day IV: Gratiné de coquillettes au potiron and easy béchemel

You’re not tiring of pumpkin yet, are you?  I’m truly not, and I am enjoying eating pumpkin daily.  In many industrialised countries, eating with the seasons has gone the way of the 8-Track.  Here in France, however, the seasons really dictate what we eat and when.  Thankfully the state of California doesn’t provide 80% of our produce (like, ahem, in some other countries), sadly however, imports are playing a larger role than before.

That being said, when I go to the local supermarché, the origins of all fruits and vegetables are clearly labeled, allowing people to make informed decisions about who they are supporting – multi-national food conglomerates, or local farmers.  I was wanting pumpkin so badly, and was frustrated that we wouldn’t have any fresh pumpkin a few weeks ago because it seemed that there was no pumpkin to be had.  Then, suddenly, a plethora of pumpkins appeared, and all of them grown in our village!

This is a very small village, so I’m guessing that the harvest came from more than one farmer.  I think it’s important to keep in mind that eating locally keeps the local farmers in business, in addition to local industry.  For example, about 10 minutes drive from here we have a company that makes candies, jams and other foods – and from local ingredients when possible.  Buying local means more local jobs, which means less economic uncertainty and unemployment, and this of course means happier homes, marriages and in turn, kids. Le boucle est bouclé.  All that from a pumpkin.  Wow.

So we’re eating pumpkin.  We’ll be eating pumpkin for quite a while, probably until we’re sick of it – and that will be at the end of the season.  We do the same thing for asparagus, cherries, apricots…even the figs that grow in our garden and grace us with two harvests.  Eating with the seasons means really getting your fill of vitamins, minerals and flavours, then going on to the next (ripe) thing. This was what nature intended, and why she allowed us to grow tired of our favourite foods – so that we wouldn’t miss them right away when they were gone, and so we would crave them when they were in season again!

I do realise that I’m preaching to the choir here, as most of my readers do follow the seasons, but I think it’s important to rationalise why I’m getting so crazy with the pumpkin recipes, after all, many of you are new here! Welcome! Of course I’ll be freezing some pumpkin, but my stocks never make it past New Year’s Eve.

Gratiné de pâtes au potiron or Baked pumpkin pasta au gratin

Sounds sexier in French, n’est ce pas?

Ingredients:

1 recipe Easy Béchamel sauce

250g whole wheat pasta of choice (we used coquillettes, but any small pasta works)

1 large onion, diced

1 tbs olive oil

2 to 5 cloves garlic, minced (we love garlic, but it might be too much, so use 2!)

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tbs dried parsley

2 cups fresh pumpkin purée (canned will work, but whiz it in the food processor with a 1/4 cup water before adding to pasta)

1 cup frozen peas, rinsed under warm water to get icky frosty freezer taste away

salt and pepper to taste

Set your water boiling for the pasta, and follow package directions.  Strain, return to the pot and set aside.

Heat a skillet and sautée onions until translucent, then add garlic and sautée for about 3 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Add cumin, parsley, pumpkin and peas and stir for about a minute.  Turn off heat, carefully taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the pasta and stir until combined, then pour into an oven safe baking dish.

Now make your béchamel! There are more béchamel recipes out there than I can count (and I can count really high!), so just google béchamel, or look in your favourite cook book.  Or use this recipe, one of the first recipes I learned to make. Ever.

Wait! Before you begin your sauce, pre-heat your oven to 200°c/395°F!

Easy Béchamel Sauce

2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I use soy)

1/4 cup non-dairy butter (I use St. Hubért Bio)

1 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (AP works, too.  So does brown rice flour.)

Pinch ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  When melted, lower heat and whisk in flour until it’s well combined.  Continue whisking while slowly adding the milk, a little at a time, to avoid making lumps.  Once it’s combined, continue stirring and turn the heat back up to medium.  The béchamel will thicken as you stir, if it’s not, turn the heat up a little more.  When desired consistency is reached, remove from heat and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Now gently pour béchamel over your pasta, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is lightly browned in spots.  Let cool a little so you don’t burn your tongue.  Yippie!

 

 

18 thoughts on “Vegan MoFo Day IV: Gratiné de coquillettes au potiron and easy béchemel

  1. Pingback: Vegan MoFo Day XXI : Cauliflower au gratin & Caluiflower alfredo sauce « Musings From The Fishbowl

  2. Oh my goodness, that looks so good! It’s finally all cold and rainy and Autumn-y around here – perfect weather for running the oven all weekend baking bread and gratinés.

    Oh, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as too many pumpkin recipes. :)

  3. I must be one of the very few people that isn’t crazy about pumpkin. Don’t tell anyone will you. Even so – I can totally appreciate recipes made with pumpkin and it’s always the colour of said recipes that excites me. Your dish is no exception – it looks DIVINE.

  4. Everything sounds sexier in French!!

    I’ve made one step toward roasting my own pumpkin; the pumpkins are now actually inside the house. Maybe I’ll have the nerve to slice them open tomorrow!

    Keep the awesome pumpkin recipes comin’!

  5. YAY for local, seasonal stuff! Our grocery store actually has a sign in the front that says how many locally grown produce items they have in on any given day. It’s pretty cool! They have a separate produce section for fruits and vegetables that are “homegrown” and not only is everything in that section fresher, but it’s also cheaper than the stuff that traveled across the country (or from another country!) to get here. Not too bad!

    Your Gratiné de pâtes au potiron (totally copied and pasted) looks super tasty – it’s almost all gone! :D

  6. How fantastic! No, of course I’m not tired of pumpkin yet! ;) And I love the fact that you can see the source of your food right there!

    I make a casserole similar to this one with silken tofu, but I think I like the bechamel idea better! :)

  7. I just made a pumpkin pasta dish last night. But my pumpkin, um, came from a can. :-( Lazy girl!
    I totally agree with your views on eating locally. I just wish Ohio had a longer growing season. Not much fresh produce around here come January!

  8. I sounds and looks sexy! I am glad I still have all that pumpkin in the freezer. I went to the grocery store today and saw all the seasonal stuff: three kinds of cabbage, leeks, Brussel sprouts, and sort of got exited. Here you can also see how the seasons change by looking at the produce available.

  9. yippie, indeed! i don’t think i could ever tire of pumpkin, Shelly. it’s soooo delicious. another thing i’d never tire of: brussel sprouts and butter beans. so yum! and now i’m thinking if i could perhaps some day make a dish that would include all three. oh my goodness, now i’m all giddy! tee hee! i think both the french and english baked pumpkin pasta au gratin sound sexy – and it looks sexy, too. mmmmmmm! never did i think to rinse peas off to get rid of that kissed-by-the-freezer taste – brilliant! i think both dan and i would love this dish, i can’t what to give it a whirl – and when i do, it’ll be in season as well. we try to eat as locally as possible. we join a csa every year and visit the farmer’s market when they’re around (may through november). there’s also a local natural foods store that offers produce from farmers in the surrounding areas – and when i can afford to i shop there as well. it is expensive, but i like knowing where my money is going – back into the pockets of those people who worked hard to bring us all the good we enjoy. i never thought of eating in season as the way nature intended it. i know that might seem silly, but i guess i just never gave it any thought. make sense to eat fruits and veggies when they’re at their best, and this makes me want to strive ever harder to keep in local & in season as often as i can. thanks, Shelly!

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