Pumpkin and Rice Gratin
When pumpkin is in season, it often appears on menus as a gratin in the
south of France. The conventional recipe is simply a puree with
bechamel and a topping of crisp, browned breadcrumbs. This version has
rice, which gives it a more interesting texture and makes it
substantial enough to be a meal on its own, served with a green salad.
1.5 kg pumpkin
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100 g long grain rice
A sprig of thyme
3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
A small handful of flat leaf parsley,
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
75 g finely grated Gruyere cheese
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black
A large baking dish, greased with
Peel and deseed the pumpkin and cut into
small cubes, Put in a large saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the oil, a
pinch of salt and 250 ml water. Cook over low heat, stirring often and
adding more water as necessary, until soft, about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the rice and the remaining
1 tablespoon oil in another saucepan and cook over medium heat,
stirring to coat the grains. Add 250 ml water, a pinch of salt and the
thyme sprig and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until almost
tender, about 10 minutes, then drain and discard the thyme.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley and a pinch of salt.
Squash the cooked pumpkin into a coarse
puree with a wooden spoon and stir in the rice and creme fraiche.
Taste; the topping and cheese will add flavor, but the pumpkin should
be seasoned with salt and pepper as well.
Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the
prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the cheese in a thin
layer over the top, then follow with a layer of the breadcrumbs. Bake
in a preheated oven at 200C (400F) Gas 6 until browned, about 20-30
minutes. Serve hot.