Monday, November 23, 2009

Elizabeth David's Pumpkin and Tomato Gratin

"If we were to bushwack our way back to the true source of modern American food culture, we would find that it is not Julia Child, but Elizabeth David." - The New Yorker

This is the first recipe I've ever tried from famed British food writer, Elizabeth David. It's a very colorful, tasty vegetarian dish, one I was especially happy to come across as I still have a pile of pumpkins and a constantly full windowsill of ripening tomatoes, smiling at me whenever I pass through the kitchen.

And just look at these colors. Aren't they beautiful?

I'm not gonna lie, this dish takes a bit of time to prepare -- you have to peel and chop pumpkins, chop and sautee tomatoes, put it all together and bake for 35 or 40 minutes. But it is tasty and filling, with the dominant flavor being tomato. I think it would make a lovely Thanksgiving side dish, if you're looking for an extra one and have the time.

I made a few minor changes -- omitting parsley, for example, and cutting down the salt a bit -- so I'll write it here the way I made it. The recipe comes from the book Elizabeth David's Christmas, edited by Jill Norman, compiled from Elizabeth David's notes after her 1992 death.

1 small pumpkin (2-3 lbs.)
2 T. butter
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 1/2 t. coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. tomatoes, chopped
1 piece of bread, torn into small pieces
1 T. butter

Peel pumpkin and chop into small chunks, discarding seeds and gummy stuff in the middle. In large, heavy frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add pumpkin, celery, and salt. Cook gently, uncovered, until pumpkin is soft. (This took maybe 20-30 minutes? I kept spearing the little pumpkin cubes and tasting until it seemed suitably soft. At this point the dish is pretty salty, but don't worry; it all works out in the end.) In Elizabeth's words, the pumpkin should be "just beginning to look slightly jammy."

Remove from heat and place pumpkin in shallow gratin dish.

In the same pan, cook the garlic and tomatoes at medium-high heat until most of the liquid cooks off. ("The tomatoes are almost in a puree," says Elizabeth -- this took maybe 20 minutes or so.) Remove from heat, mix in with the pumpkin, and smush down the veggies till they're flat.

Top off the dish with the torn bread pieces and the remaining T. of butter, cut into little blobs. Bake in top third of the oven, at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until golden.



Blogger chow and chatter said...

oh what a great recipe I should know her as a Brit lol

November 24, 2009 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Rita said...

Looks and sound wonderful. Now i will to investigate another food lover; Elizabeth David, new to me.

November 25, 2009 at 3:10 AM  
Blogger Joyce said...

You have some yummy looking recipes...I will post the pie recipe in the next day or two...between cooking : )

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2009 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger Carpool Queen said...

I bet this would work with eggplant, too....I'm in an eggplant phase, much to the chagrin of my family.

Have a great T-giving, friend!

November 25, 2009 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Elizabeth David? She's new to me. I'll have to google and find out more about her!

Thanks for the recipe, and have a Happy Thanksgiving. :~D

November 25, 2009 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Faith said...

I've never had gratin with tomato, but it sounds fantastic! (And I love roasted tomato so I bet I would love it!)

I left a little something for you on my blog...hope you like it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2009 at 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an unusual combination. I can't quite picture the flavor of tomatoes and pumpkin combined.

I'll have to think about this. Maybe I'll get adventuresome and give it a try. :)

November 25, 2009 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Thanks for coming by and visiting, everyone. And Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Joyce, I'm looking forward to salivating over your pie recipe.

Faith, thanks for the "little something" you left for me on your blog. I do not have the best track record at picking up/passing on awards :o (so sorry!) but it is a thrill to get one, and I can promise I will try! Thank you so much for thinking of me. I am honored.

Addhumorandfaith, this recipe actually kind of reminds me of a ratatouille, as the pumpkin takes on the characteristics of a zucchini or some other kind of squash. So what you taste is mostly tomato, with the texture of the celery and pumpkin(squash) added in. The taste is nothing weird or scary, I promise. I'd love to hear if you decide to try it.

November 25, 2009 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Bobbi Jo Nichols said...

This looks really good. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Hugs, Bobbi Jo

November 26, 2009 at 6:36 AM  
Anonymous tasteofbeirut said...

delicious and simple dish! I love the combo of pumpkin and tomato, in fact I used this in my pumpkin soup. I have read a few of E. David's books. They were recommended to me by my aunt when I started to cook daily 30 years ago

December 4, 2009 at 5:50 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Taste of Beirut, I love your idea of using pumpkin and tomato in soup. I made some pumpkin soup this year and didn't really like it. I added some grated apple, which made it better, but still not great. Bet it would be yummy with tomato, though. Thanks for the inspiration.

December 4, 2009 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Lynn! I was just browsing your side-bar and found this recipe. It sounds delightful and I'm sure worth the extra work.

I did a post about Elizabeth David way back in December, 2007 on the day she was born, the 26th. I'm going to "grab" this link to include in that post. Hope you don't mind if I spread the goodness!!! Thanks for sharing...

February 15, 2010 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Whoops, here's the link if you want to check it our.

February 15, 2010 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Thanks for the link, Louise. How fun! Your site is full of such interesting culinary tidbits. Have you ever thought about compiling it all into a book? I think it would make a fascinating one.

February 15, 2010 at 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Grandma said...

Hi Lynn, this is Mary Ann. You sure have a wonderful husband.

February 15, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Mary Ann, I couldn't agree more :)

February 15, 2010 at 5:04 PM  

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