An English Autumnal Moussaka… of sorts
Cooking time: 2 hours 40 minutes
This is a real late-summer/early-autumn dish, making the most of ingredients that are at their best at this time of year. The idea came – as many of the best food ideas do – while browsing a farmers’ market, and finding a huge basket of golden-yellow pattypan squashes. These lovely summer squashes stand-up to roasting better than courgette, but are more tender than butternut squash.
It is also real hybrid: I’ve called it an English moussaka, but it also borrows elements from lasagne, with the sliced pattypan squash standing-in for the pasta sheets.
2 pattypan squashes (approximately 500g-700g)
salt and pepper
parmesan and cheddar, a large handful of each, or to your preference
For the pork ragù
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1tbs dark soy sauce
handful (roughly 8) cherry tomatoes, halved
700g pork mince
8 sage leaves (5 finely sliced, 3 left whole for the end)
For the white sauce
50g salted butter
50g plain flour
20g cavalo nero or kale, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200C (or 180*C fan-assisted).
Heat the olive oil in a wide pan with high sides on a moderate heat, and add the diced onion. Cook for about 5 mins until softened, but not coloured. Add the carrot and garlic, and continue cook for another 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, mix thoroughly, and then add the halved cherry tomatoes.
Once the tomatoes have begun to soften, increase the heat and add the pork mince, and cook until the pork has browned and the surplus water has evaporated. Add the passata, 150ml of water and the finely sliced sage, bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat again, and simmer for 30 minutes, checking the seasoning towards the end.
Meanwhile, quarter, deseed and then thinly slice the pattypan squashes into very thin wedges. Spread the slices evenly on a wide shallow baking tray, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil, and toss to coat. Place the tray in oven for 10 minutes to soften slightly. Some slices may char slightly, which will only contribute to the flavour.
For the white sauce, gently melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and combine with a metal whisk. Allow the sauce to bubble for a minute, and then start adding the milk gradually, stirring vigorously with the whisk to ensure the sauce remains lump-free. Once the milk has been added, stir in the cavalo nero, and then allow the sauce to bubble for a few minutes to thicken.
By now, all elements should be ready. In a deep buttered oven dish, add half the pork ragù, followed by half the patty slices, then half the white sauce, and sprinkle over a little less than half of the cheeses. Repeat in the same order, finishing with the remaining cheeses on top.
Pour olive oil to a small bowl and submerge the remaining three remaining sage leaves completely. Press the sage leaves to the top of the dish with a grinding of black pepper, and bake in oven for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven, allow to cook for a few minutes, and then serve with a leafy salad.