It’s Spring! Actually it’s been spring for a couple of weeks. Not that you’d notice. It’s so cold round here I’m starting to think the next Ice Age is here. Now. Apparently if a frost doesn’t thaw during summer for two years in a row then we are, in fact, at the start of a new Ice Age. Can you imagine it? Snow in July?
I could be making all that up but still it makes you think. It doesn’t? You must be pissed. Or you want to holiday in North Korea. Seriously what is the problem with those people.
Anyway I was watching some food-related programme when up pops Raymond Blanc. He’s great because he doesn’t seem to hate the English. I know only one other French person who likes England and she is my sister-in-law.
Monsieur Blanc proceeded to show me how to do something fantastic with some humble ‘in season’ veg. He created a dish that looked like some kind of weird other-world life form. But it looked that good I had to try it out…
Now what the hell is that? Well apparently it’s a winter vegetable salad. To create it (and I should point out at this point that it is well worth it) you will need:
For the pumpkin slices and the pumpkin puree and the beetroot
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 250g/9oz pumpkin
- salt and pepper
- ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
- baby beetroots
- vegetable stock
- red wine
For the sauce
- 3½fl oz port
- 3½fl oz red wine
- 1 star anise
- caster sugar
For the mushrooms
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3½oz mushrooms
- squeeze lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- flatleaf parsley, chopped
For the garnish
- slivers of parsnip, covered with olive oil, baked in the oven
- a few pickled silverskin onions
First off get the pumpkin ready. Peel the sucker. It isn’t easy, but it has to be done…
Now before you cut it in half chop the top off:
Get a food ring and ram it (and you do need to ram it) into the big solid bit of pumpkin:
Then slice the pumpkin tube into three:
Meanwhile chop the remainder of the pumpkin. And also shave the edges of the pumpkin slices to round them off. Fry the pumpkin slices in olive oil and the rest of the pumpkin in a pan:
Start the sauce. Get a small pan, add the port, wine and star anise and bring to the boil:
Back to the pumpkin slices (this creation is pretty full on): put them on a baking tray and let them brown up a bit:
Get the beetroot ready; put them in a pan with some stock and a splash of red wine and let them simmer:
Lastly the mushrooms (getting tired now it’s 1am and I’ve run out of wine). Fry them hard in a pan with all the other ingredients – I think I forgot the parsley…
Now by some miracle we are ready to plate up! You will have, by now of course, mashed the chopped up pumpkin. Spread it on a (preferably rectangular) plate. Then put two slices of pumpkin at either end of the plate.
Put some beetroot on top of the mashed pumpkin, alternated with mushroom.
Pour a drizzle of sauce around the edge and then place some mushrooms and onions on top. Finish with those parsnip shavings I mentioned…
Was it worth it? Hell yes! Mind you a big thick fillet steak wouldn’t have hurt…