When browsing through a cookbook some recipes literally leap from the pages and beg for more attention. Generally it is the ingredient combination that appeals to me first, but in this case it was the recipe combined with a wonderful tale of the origins of the dish, being inspired by the colours of a piece of artwork. If you’re not already aware, one of the other hats I proudly wear is as an artist. I love colour and find cooking as satisfying as painting because it appeals to all the senses.
Jane Grigson tells the story in her book of Vuillard, a fellow painter, creating this image of Toulouse-Lautrec (1898) whilst he was preparing a meal for his friends in his home in Alba. Apparently he loved to cook and share his food and flavours with his fellow painters and was at home with food in his hands as he was with a paintbrush. My kind of guy really.
As for the food itself, this dish is a wonderful combination of sweet creamy pumpkin, matched perfectly with tart acidic tomato and balanced with earthy, slightly sweet onions. The butter and breadcrumbs are literally icing on the cake texture wise. This gratin would be fabulous served with a roast chicken or even on its own for a meat free meal with a bit of baby spinach on the side.
On a side note, this recipe below is literally word for word and I could wax lyrically about the language use of Jane Grigson. I loved seeing my onion bathed lightly and perfectly in the tomatoes. Bliss for the eyes and the taste buds.
Gratin De Potioron
- 1kg piece pumpkin
- seasoned flour
- olive oil
- 1/2kg onions, sliced
- 250g tinned, peeled tomatoes
- salt, pepper, sugar to season
Peel the pumpkin, remove the insides and slice into wide pieces about 1/2cm thick. turn the pieces in the flour and fry them in the oil until they are golden but not brown. Do this in batches so that you only ever have one layer in the pan, drain well on paper towel.
In another pan soften the onions in a small amount of oil over a low heat until they are translucent but not coloured. Add the tomatoes and raise the heat as their juices begin to run. “You should end up with a moist mixture of onions, bathed lightly in tomato”. Season with salt, pepper and a touch of sugar to suit your tastes.
In a gratin dish, layer the slices of pumpkin and the onion mixture adding a little extra seasoning. Finish with a layer of pumpkin and then scatter evenly with breadcrumbs. melt a knob of butter and dribble it over the crumbs.
Bake at 180c until the gratin is bubbling at the sides and the flavours are well mixed. This should take about 45 minutes. Finish browning the top under a grill if necessary. Serve immediately.
Shared With Love,