Okay, I know it’s “that time of the year”, but I am loathe to eat and drink all of the super-sweet pumpkin-y stuff that’s out. I don’t have much use for the toaster tarts, sandwich cookies or coffee drinks these days because to me they’re too freaking chock full of sugar, even for me. Give me a savory pumpkin dish, though, and you have a friend forever.
So, here is my contribution. It’s good as a holiday side, but just fabulous as an alternative to mac ‘n cheese.
Savory Pumpkin Spaetzle Gratin
2 bay leaves
1 c. pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1 tsp. olive oil
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of black pepper
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, thinly sliced
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 egg yolk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 c. grated gruyere
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the spaetzle:
Crack the egg into a medium bowl and beat it a little. Add the pumpkin, olive oil, and nutmeg and blend. Using a strong rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, beatin the flour and salt a little at a time. You should have a really sticky, fairly smooth mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Bring the water and bay leaves to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.
Position a spaetzle maker, large colander, or medium-gauge shredder* over the boiling water. Working in small batches, squish the dough through the tool of your choosing, into the water. The spaetzle is done when it floats to the surface and boils there for 30 seconds. Remove them from the pot and rinse in a colander under cold water to stop them continuing to cook.
Once all the spaetzle is cooked and cooled, pour into a shallow baking dish and set aside.
For the gratin:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cook the bacon until crispy. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the fat. Add the sliced shallot and cook over medium-low heat until golden brown. Add the sage and toss together to combine. Remove from heat.
Combine the milk and cream in a separate bowl with the egg and yolk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined. Sprinkle in the cheese, stir well, then pour evenly over the spaetzle.
Bake until the top is golden and bubbly, approximately 25 minutes.
Eat with reckless abandon.