This recipe came together very quickly. I had guests coming over in the afternoon, and had forgotten to think about a light snack. It was noon-ish, but lunch wasn't in order; there was a nip in the air and a steady drizzle coming down. Summery nibbles seemed out of place; I wanted something warming and comforting without being heavy.
The lack of much time and a quick look in the fridge brought inspiration: the quarter pumpkin, fresh spinach, eggs and a generous portion of creamy yet protein-rich cottage cheese could be turned into a tarte, along with the roll of puff pastry lying inside.
40 minutes later this came out the oven looking like much more work than it had been, and it was quite nicely received. You can adapt this recipe to use up any greens you have at hand: chard, pak choy, roasted kale. Add a generous measure of your favourite fresh herbs, and that's all there is to it.
You can serve this on its own or add a fresh salad for a more substantial meal.
Pumpkin Spinach Tarte
300gm Hokkaido or another pumpkin variety, peeled
100—120gm fresh spinach, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 roll puff pastry
200gm cottage cheese
2 heaped tablespoons yoghurt
3 eggs, preferably organic
3 tablespoon ghee, sunflower or olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs like basil, thymian or mint, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, to top (optional)
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Take the puff pastry out of its packaging and allow it to come to room temperature.
Slice the pumpkin into wedges 3—4mm wide, then cut each wedge into three along the length. Arrange on a lined baking tray, then sprinkle over with the coriander powder, turmeric, chilli and salt to taste. Drizzle with 1—2 teaspoons of ghee or oil and using both hands, mix well to coat. Bake for 10—15 minutes until the pumpkin is almost done, turning the slices over once. Allow to cool.
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the coriander seeds followed by the spinach after about 20 seconds. Stir well, add salt to taste and cook for 3—5 minutes until the spinach is just cooked through. Use the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze any water out of the spinach and pour it out of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
Line a baking tin with the puff pastry (mine is 26 cm). In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, cottage cheese, yoghurt, lemon zest and fresh herbs, stir well to combine. Add the pumpkin and spinach and mix to combine. Add salt to taste and a grind or two of pepper, mix well and pour into the prepared tin. Sprinkle over with the sesame, and bake at 180°C for 20—25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out dry (take care not to overbake, or it will be dry). To get a nice golden top, turn on the broiler for the last 3—4 minutes, taking care to monitor the tarte carefully; it burns very easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack, before removing. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a salad on the side.
Images: Vatsala Murthy