Jerk patties with pigeon peas, butternut squash and kale

Jerk patties with kale and butternut squash

Jerk patties with kale and butternut squash

Malcolm has been trying to remember a song. It’s a song I listened to all the time when he was little, that I sang along to. (These claims check out, because I do tend to become obsessed with songs and sing along with them over and over.) Malcolm is the boy with the long memory. If we’re trying to remember where we put something, or if we watched something, or who said what, we ask Malcolm. I love to think about Malcolm looking out on the world with his wise, observant, beautiful eyes, these past ten years, and collecting a trove of thoughts and images and recollections, and storing them in his remarkable brain. It’s one of the things that makes him seem wiser and more mature than his years. (As opposed to, say, giggling over fart jokes with his brother in the back seat. And there’s also plenty of that!) I used to have a good memory for strange, inconsequential things, but I feel as though my memory is fading with my eyesight, which is a weird sort of impaired, half-awake feeling. So we’ve been trying to recall this song. On Saturday night we sat on the couch, and he leaned heavily against me in the sweet way I’m sure he won’t do for much longer, and he played songs on his iPod (or fragments of songs – he’s an erratic DJ!). We thought about all the songs we’d listened to when he was very little. We listened to songs that used to make me burst into tears when I was very pregnant or just after he was born, because I was overwhelmed with the scale of our impending change. We tried to remember all of the songs he’d sing along to, with delightfully incorrect words. And there’s no medium more powerful for conjuring recollections than music! And as we listened for old memories in the songs, we were weaving new ones as well, so that years from now these songs will have layer upon layer of remembrance. We never did figure out which song he had in mind, but in the end, of course, it didn’t matter. The joy was not in remembering this one song, the joy was in remembering.

Food is another great trigger of memories! I remember walking around Central Park in the blazing hot sun during a street festival. I coveted the jerk patties, so bright and festive and fragrant, but they usually had chicken or beef in them. Not these, my friend! These have kale and pigeon peas. And I developed a new technique with the butternut squash. I grated it and then roasted it. I like it this way, especially in a pie – it turned out more roasty, and a lovely texture. I tried to minimize the time it took to make these by rolling out a long thin sheet of dough (two feet by ten inches, maybe) putting big glops of dough along one side, folding over, sealing, and then cutting apart. Kind of like making ravioli. If this seems, actually, to be more work, feel free to divide the dough in six, roll out thin rounds, and make this half-circle shaped.

Here’s Stars of Track and Field by Belle and Sebastian. Malcolm used to sing “Stars and dragons still too far.”

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup masa harina
1/2 t salt
1 t dried sage
1 t turmeric
1 stick butter, frozen
about 1 cup ice water

In a large bowl combine the flour, masa harina, salt, sage and turmeric and mix well. Grate in the frozen butter. Stir with a fork till you have a coarse, crumbly texture. Add ice water, starting with half a cup, until you have a workable dough. Knead for about a minute, to be sure everything is well-combined. Wrap in foil and leave to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.


1/2 large or 1 small butternut squash
1 t sage
1 t rosemary
olive oil
1 small bunch kale (about 2 packed cups) washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 can pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t dried thyme (or 2 t fresh)
1/4 t cayenne, or to taste
large pinch allspice, small pinch cinnamon
salt & plenty of freshly ground pepper
juice of one lime
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel the squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and then cut it into long strips about 1 inch square. Put these through the food processor with the grater device installed. When you have a giant mound of grated butternut squash (about 3 cups) toss this with enough olive oil to coat, the sage and the rosemary. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, and roast until the squashed is reduced and browned – 20 to 25 minutes. The edges will brown first, so use a spatula to stir and rearrange as you go. Set these aside.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water and drop in the kale. Boil for about 15 minutes, till soft but still bright. Drain and let cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can, using two hands. You should now have a compact block of greenness about 1 cup large. Chop this into small pieces. Set aside.

Warm the tablespoonful of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, stir and fry for about a minute, add the garlic and thyme, stir and fry until the garlic starts to brown – about a minute. Add the pigeon peas. Stir to coat, squashing slightly with your stirring utensil. Stir and cook till they’re warmed through. Add the spices, stir, cook for a couple of seconds and then transfer to a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper, and stir in the lime juice. Stir in the squash and kale. Stir in the cheese. STir in all but 1 T of the egg.

Now preheat the oven to 425 (or leave it there if you’ve just roasted your squash!)

Take out the dough. Flour your counter and your rolling pin. Roll the dough into a long thin rectangle, about 2 feet by 10 inches. The edges don’t need to be perfect, and, obviously, the corners won’t be particularly sharp.

With a dull knife, make a shallow line across the center of the dough lengthwise (don’t cut all the way through!!). Then mark it in half width-wise, and mark those halves into thirds. So you’ve marked six across. Drop the filling by big spoonfuls (about 1/2 cup each) into the six parts closest to you, leaving a margin of at least half an inch on all sides. (I should have taken a picture of this!!) Fold the dough over, and seal the dough between each clump of filling by pressing down with your fingers, seal the edges as well. Cut the pies apart, and use a fork to completely seal the edges. Brush the surface with the leftover egg.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top and bottom.


6 thoughts on “Jerk patties with pigeon peas, butternut squash and kale

  1. what a lovely story and a tasty looking pie. There is, somewhere in my house a selection of nursery rhyme CDs I used to play for the children when we were in the car, at least a few of them used to make me cry, being a new mother was emotionally challenging, glad to hear it wasn’t just me.

  2. Another recipe to send off to my mother in Scotland I think.

    Traditional Scottish cooking is very meat based, only with extra gristly bits.
    Sometimes she needs a little inspiration …!

      • Well, she’s a vegetarian and has been for years while living in London. When she retired back up to Scotland, it was a bit of a culture shock. She hadn’t realised how er, meaty, it was. The Scottish diet is meat based and also very unhealthy. Lots of lardy fat, and even more sugar. I send her these recipes to help her stay fit and healthy. She currently walks five miles a day, so something must be working…

      • We had really good vegetarian food in Edinburgh, but in the country it was a bit harder to find. It sounds nice to walk five miles a day in Scotland!

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