Halloween has gone for enough year but the pumpkins linger on for the rest of the month. When I returned to Shropshire the weekend before last I visited Fordhall Organic Farm and picked myself up a 10kg bag of porridge oats and the biggest pumpkin I could find, without thinking about the consequences of having to drag these rather hefty items back to Brighton and up the stairs to my attic flat. After carving a rather crafty cat into our prize pumpkin, some of the seeds and flesh have been used to make this pumpkin, kale and gorgonzola quiche, which, with all the aromatic herbs sprinkled throughout, creates a gorgeous dinner for these foggy autumn nights.
For the pastry
250g plain flour
1 free-range egg
~4 tablespoons water
tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
For the filling
175ml double cream
handful of pumpkin seeds
teaspoon finely chopped sage
teaspoon thyme leaves
3 cloves of garlic
- As with every bake consisting of a pastry base, the first key step is to get the pastry made and chilling in the fridge. Measure out the flour, then cube the butter (which should be straight out of the fridge) and add. With the tips of your fingers pick at the butter to break it up into small chunks and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add in the tablespoon of caraway seeds, followed by about a tablespoon of picked thyme leaves. You can buy clumps of fresh thyme in the supermarket and it doesn’t take long to pick the leaves of. Stir through with a flat butter knife.
- Beat an egg in a separate jug then add to the crumbs, slicing through with a knife to help disperse the moisture. Next add about 4 tablespoons water, a bit at a time, until you can bring the pastry together into a dough and there is barely any flour left at the bottom of the bowl. Flatten out, wrap in cling film then leave to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- The next step I took was to grease my tart tin. As mine has fluted sides I was super careful to grease all the little ridges before dusting a light layer of flour over the top.
- Toast the sunflower seeds for about 5 minutes until the grill at approximately 180•C, until they go golden brown. Be careful because they can burn very quickly.
6. Chop the pumpkin into bits about 1cm x 1cm, then roast for 20 minutes at 180*C in a light drizzle of oil, plus a pinch of salt and pepper.
7. At this stage I now took my pastry out the fridge and fitted it into my tin. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until large enough to line the tin and approximately 3mm thick. Pick up by rolling up over your pin and lightly dropping into the tin. Use a bit of excess pastry to push it well into all the creases of the tin. Leave the edges rough and hanging over the edge of the tin for now as this will stop the pastry case shrinking into the tin.
8. Prick the base with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans (or rice or lentils or whatever- essentially something heavy and oven-proove). Blind bake for 15 minutes at 200*C.
9. Whilst the blind bake is going on, prepare the rest of the ingredients for the filling. To make the liquid, beat 3 eggs together, before adding the cream and whisking. Add the zest of 1 lemon, plus a generous grind of black pepper, some thyme leaves and finely chopped fresh sage.
10. Chop the kale finely, removing any hard stalks, along with the garlic and the gorgonzola.
11. Once the blind bake is over leave to rest for a few minutes before removing the baking beads. Using a SHARP serrated knife saw the edges of the pastry case to fit the tin. Lower the oven temperature to 180•C.
12. Arrange the solid ingredients (bar the pumpkin seeds) over the bottom of the pastry case. I would recommend putting the kale in first, then using the pumpkin to weigh it down slightly to stop edges poking out the top of the egg mixture and getting too crispy in the oven. Pour half of the liquid into the case, then sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top.
13. Transfer to the oven and top up the quiche with the rest of the liquid being careful not to splash it over the rim of the pastry.
14. Bake for 35 minutes.