With apologies to His Royal Highness, Hendrix and the Artist formerly known as Prince, this post celebrates the very purpleness of certain parts of Magic Garden. It's kinda happened by accident and when I pointed this out to my Mum, she said how lovely it was to see just how many different shades there were in the one place. Stupidly, I'd been beating myself up abit for not "considering" my planting scheme, when in truth, there was no plan at all. Mum's call has made me see the beauty in this situation. There's five different shades of purple in this picture, the sage, lavender, chives, catmint and sweetpeas but what I really love is that this shot shows just how much my Hills Hoist garden has grown since my first post. I do need to think of some way to break up the purple haze. I'm feeling blue, simply because spring has revealed Magic Garden's very garish heart and the front yard already has the opposing purple/yellow nexus covered. These questions of colouration remind me that I've been meaning to post about the concept of the "fashionable" in garden design. What happens when your garden is so well established that such notions are irrelevant? And more to the point, is the true nature of gardening beyond such frivolous concerns? Fashion is defined by its seasonality and infers a sense of the replaceable whereas a garden must transcend the 4 seasons and continue to evolve in spite of them. As with any good design, a successful garden will invoke a sense of timelessness, I guess but then what does this really mean? All this and more, I shall discuss in a future post...
In between, I shall be making up a batch of this very delicious Pumpkin, Sage & Ricotta Lasagne. It was the cover recipe from the ABC's delicious magazine from July 2007, so that should give you some indication as to how long I've been perfecting this rather decadent dish. For entertaining the non-vegan of your vegetarian friends, it is an absolute lifesaver and very well received by meat eaters alike. It freezes really well so make 2 batches and freeze one to be popped in the oven at a later date. Serve with a fresh green salad and maybe some crusty bread, if you feel like carb loading. Also, very tasty as leftovers the next day.
To serve 4, you'll need:
1.2kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes*
1 tbs chopped fresh sage, plus 12 leaves to garnish
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
8 lasagne sheets
100g unsalted butter
2 tbs chopped walnuts or pinenuts
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
Place pumpkin on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with chilli flakes & season with seas salt & freshly ground pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 25minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Allow to cool slightly then puree in a food processor, with the sage and nutmeg or mash by hand. Set aside.
Combine ricotta, egg & parmesan and season with salt & pepper.
Lightly grease a 24cm square baking pan, lay 2 lasagne sheets and spread with half the pumpkin puree. Then lay another 2 sheets and spread with half the ricotta. Repeat and then sprinkle the final layer of ricotta with the grated parmesan.
Lay a sheet of baking paper over the surface, cover with foil and bake for 35mins. Uncover and bake for a further 15mins or until golden. Stand for 5mins and in the meantime, heat the butter, nuts & sage until the butter begins to foam. Remove from the heat, drizzle over the rested lasagne and finally, artfully scatter with the additional parmesan.
*Please note, I tend to the cavalier when it comes to measuring and in this instance, the dried chilli can really pack a punch once it's mixed with the sage, so be a bit careful unless you're confident you & your guests like it HOT.