Here’s another exotic and delicious starter dish from Alexx Stuart’s fab new book Low Tax Life – Food (Murdoch Books). It features wonderful recipes that keep us healthy as well as tasting great. The book is full of info on how to shop, cook, swap, save and eat for a happier self and planet.
Prep time 15 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
This dish will forever bring my grandmother back to life in my mind. We have big lunches in Mauritius, so often Grandmère would do a gratin with bread and a leafy greens salad as a simple dinner. It might seem weird to mix cheese with ginger, but trust me it’s great. It’s a Mauritian thing. You can serve it as a simple meal on its own, but it also works as an autumnal starter when pumpkins are in season. Warm comfort in a bowl.
This is really easy – yes, you do have to check on it and stir the pumpkin to ensure even cooking … but I do this when I’m also cooking another dish or two. That way, when you’re chopping and organising other bits, you just take little breaks to stir the pumpkin.
40 g (1½ oz) butter or ghee, or coconut oil or macadamia oil*
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 x 2.5 cm (1 inch) piece ginger, crushed, grated or finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1.5–2 kg (3 lb 5 oz – 4 lb 8 oz) butternut or kent pumpkin (squash), roughly chopped into smallish chunks
1 small handful parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
4 thyme sprigs
4 spring onions (scallions), green part only, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 cup (250 ml) chicken or vegetable stock or filtered water
2 cups (200 g) grated cheese or
1 cup (60 g) nutritional yeast*
Heat the butter or ghee in a large heavy-based saucepan* over medium heat. Fry the onion for 6–7 minutes, until well softened and golden. Add the ginger, garlic, pumpkin, parsley, thyme, spring onion, salt and stock. Reduce the heat to medium–low and cook, covered, for 15–25 minutes, stirring every 5–8 minutes, until the pumpkin is well cooked. The last time you stir, leave the lid off until most of the liquid evaporates.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Remove the pumpkin from the heat and mash it roughly into a very chunky mash rather than a purée. Transfer to a 20 x 30 cm (4 x 12 inch) enamel, glass or ceramic baking dish and scatter the grated cheese over the top.
Bake until golden brown, garnish with the extra parsley and serve immediately.
*Notes: Use coconut or macadamia oil and nutritional yeast options for dairy-free. You don’t want the pumpkin to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn before it cooks, so you’ll need a heavy-based saucepan or stockpot or a flameproof casserole dish. I use an enamelled cast-iron casserole dish.
Images and text from Low Tox Life Food by Alexx Stuart, photography by Cath Muscat. Murdoch Books RRP $36.99.