I wasn't really expecting to see any squash or pumpkins on the stalls at the beginning of August. It's actually one of my favorite things about fall.. The myriad different varieties of these lovely imposing vegetables. As it turns out, I wanted to make some pumpkin pie for my little "apéro dinatoire" involving first time guests whore are culinarily aware. No pressure. I'm not sure exactly how to translate "apéro dinatoire." I wouldn't call it a cocktail party because first of all, a party is a celebration of something usually involving more than 4 people, and second of all, there certainly will not be a bartender serving drinks. Apéro is usually drinks and munchies that happen before dinner. If you invite someone for apéro, they should expect to leave afterward and supply their own dinner. Apéro dinatoire is.. well, they aren't expected to leave because there will be enough appetizer-ish things served that they will go home fully nourished (and hydrated). I suppose I would call it Happy Hours or a Happy Hour Evening.. or maybe just a Happy Evening. Yes.
Anyway, since my menu is Lebanese oriented, I had to leave my American mark somehow, since these are first time guests..and so pumpkin pie for dessert is just perfect. Except that it's early August.
While shopping I was planning on making it a sweet potato version of the pie instead, not expecting to find anything pumpkin-like, but then this naughty little Bernettine called me, "Escusi signora, PrrRrrRR!" And that was all it took to convince me. Bernettine is from Italy, where she is in season.. And she's green and gorgeous..just like thyme gelato..
render a ton of water while roasting, but after 2 hours at 190°C, she just crisped and tanned and left no unpleasant juice.
Her flesh is amazing. I sampled a small piece and found it to be naturally sweet and rich..might I say even more velvety than butternut! Once seeded, the flesh behaved more like a sweet potato than a squash. No filandrous mess.
She offered herself wholly to me, giving me much more than I had expected. I may as well make dinner with it..I'll still have enough to make 10 pies afterward if I wanted! (Ok ok more like 3, but still, that's pretty impressive)
Since the flesh was already cooked (and mashed) I decided to make little mozzarella volcanoes with it. Needless to say, this beauty doesn't need any adornments..the cheese and tomatoes were just for the looks. This little Bernettine gives you that buttery velvety texture with its sweet rich flavor that it makes a perfect side dish all by itself.
I filled her with some basil, mozzarella
some evergreen tomatoes, fleur de sel, pepper, and some piment d'espelette, a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar and another small drizzle of olive oil.
Into the 190°C 375°F oven for 20 minutes and the volcano had erupted into a cheesy delicious mess.
After all the courting, I fell soundly asleep, exhausted, but in a good way..