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?


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!