With our trusty Halloween pumpkin glowing devilishly on the kitchen counter, I stood pondering this morning over how to turn the bowl of squashy innards and seeds into a vegetarian-friendly lunch. Despite the weather being damp, dark and cold outside, I wanted a light and cheerful dish that wouldn’t leave me feeling mummified. With a little help from a sheet of rolled puff-pastry in the fridge I made the most delicious pumpkin and cauliflower cheese puff.
This dish was a breeze to prepare and cook and was on the table within fifteen minutes from start to finish. I began by covering a flat baking tray in kitchen foil and cutting a square of ready-rolled puff-pastry to size with a knife. I place pastry onto foil when oven baking as it’s easier to remove once cooked, as pastry tends to stick, burn and flake apart when trying to scrape it from a baking tray.
With my pastry square centred on the foil covered baking tray I then topped it with my ingredients. Firstly I began with the pumpkin base, and rather than using the flesh of the pumpkin which is quite firm, I chose the slushy, bright orange, juicy fibres that tangle amongst the pumpkin seeds, separating them off first and then spreading them across the pastry base. After this I took a floret of cauliflower and cut it into quarters, sliced a single white mushroom and a grating of extra mature cheddar cheese all over, finishing with a sprinkle of pine nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
I placed the pastry into my preheated fan-assisted electric oven at 200 degrees for around ten minutes until the pastry had risen and turned a light golden brown, melting the cheese and charring the cauliflower slightly. To serve it out I peeled back the foil as you would a plaster, sliding the puff onto a plate and topping with rocket, et voila! Lunch in quarter of an hour.
The pastry is light and flaky, bursting as you cut into it, with the sweet and succulent pumpkin fibres complimenting the al dente cauliflower, gooey rich cheddar cheese and creamy, crunchy toasted seeds. Not only is it a mix of textures from juicy to crisp, but also flavours that are both mature and refreshingly sweet at the same time and a real treat for the senses. The pumpkin cooks rather similarly to carrot, only softer, and adds a delicious and bright autumnal twist to a dreary afternoon.