Savoury Pumpkin/Poireau/Polenta Pie (with a dead simple tomato sauce)

I’m going to disappoint my BFF with this post because I spent a lot of time at a pub describing in detail an idea I had for a savoury pumpkin pie that would see me actually making pie pastry, a thing I have avoided mastering for the better part of 40 years and a thing she makes so well I’d rather just raid her freezer than attempt myself.

I know “it’s not hard” and “you just need a light hand”, but you know what else it isn’t? Fun. It’s fiddly and requires precision and is anti-everything-I-love-about-cooking.

Anyway, I was having a hard time getting over what I foresaw as texture issues with the idea I had in my head, then remembered eating a sublime savoury, cheesy, squashy pie at a wee hole-in-the-wall vegie diner while exploring Bath one crisp November day.

The staff at the diner referred me to Anna Thomas’ The Vegetarian Epicure, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in vegetarian cooking, but never did seek out for this purpose because the idea seemed dead simple: toss a bunch of veg with polenta and bake.

And it really is a very simple idea, however, I’ve riffed on it to the point where it’s become a bit of a labour-intensive undertaking mostly because I insist on using pumpkin I’ve roasted myself.

It’s also really, really worth it. It’s a beautiful, rustic pie that is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with layers of smoky, creamy, pumpkiny goodness. The tangy tomato sauce is a gorgeous complement to its richness and is super-easy to put together.

pumpkin-polenta-pie-2

It also makes a lot. About 12 meal-sized servings. Much more if you’re using it as a side.

What you need for the pie:

  • 1 pie pumpkin (after roasting, this should yield about 1.5 cups of pumpkin and can be replaced with canned pumpkin purée)
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 loose cups leek (about 1 large one, green and white parts), cleaned and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 cup pecans or walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1.5 cups smoked gouda, shredded (vegan pals, Daiya makes a smoked gouda product that is perfect for this application – just replace all of the cheese in the recipe with this and you’re golden)
  • 1/2 cup asiago, shredded
  • 1 fresh batch of polenta

What you need for the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed with a knife
  • 6-7 diced roma tomatoes, diced (or 1 can of diced tomatoes)
  • 2 tbsp whiskey or vodka (or 2 tsp brown sugar)
  • Healthy pinch of nutmeg
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Water

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wash the pumpkin, cut it in half and de-seed it.
  3. Place pumpkin halves on a baking sheet, well-sides up.
  4. Place 2-3 garlic cloves in the well of each half, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil, cover with foil and bake for about an hour, or until tender.
  5. Remove the foil after half an hour, but keep the foil as it’s needed later.
  6. If you’re interested in roasting the pumpkin seeds, this is a good time to prep those and toss them into the oven while the pumpkin itself roasts. I highly recommend a mix of paprika, onion/garlic power, salt, pepper and olive oil. They’ll be done in about 15 minutes.
  7. In a frying pan, sautée the leeks and sage in olive just until soft, then set aside in a large bowl to cool.
  8. In the same, frying pan, toss the pecans until toasty.
  9. Add to the bowl to chill.
  10. Once the pumpkin is tender, remove from oven and recover with foil.
  11. Let stand about ten minutes, then scoop the garlic and guts out into a bowl and mash.
  12. Add the mash to the cooling leeks and pecans.
  13. Once the pumpkin, leeks, and pecans have cooled, add the cheeses and salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Toss to lightly combine.
  15. Make your polenta in a large pot because you’ll mix the other ingredients into this and there is a lot of those.
  16. Once the polenta is done, lightly fold in the pumpkin/leek/cheese mixture. The idea isn’t to fully combine, but to create strata or pockets of flavour/texture within the polenta.
  17. Pour into a well-greased large cast iron frying pan, baking dish, or muffin tins and smooth over the top(s) with the back of a spoon so there aren’t any peaks because those will just burn.
  18. Bake at 375 for 1 hour, or until the top is browned and the sides slightly crispy.
  19. Once the pie is done, remove from the oven and let stand a good 20 minutes before cutting.
  20. Start your sauce.
  21. In a small, heavy sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat.
  22. Add the smashed garlic and cook until softened and fragrant.
  23. Stir in the tomatoes, whiskey/vodka, nutmeg, pepper, and about 1/2 cup of water.
  24. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  25. Serve slabs of the pie drizzled in the sauce. Steamed green veg, like beans, broccoli, and asparagus, or a spinach side salad are nice accompaniments to this dish.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s