lunch/ picnics/ salads/ sides

Roasted Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh herbs, feta and almonds

Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh herbs Sweetpea Darlingheart -1-2

And just like that, it was Autumn.

As I sit here listening to my new favourite music discovered over the weekend – a swedish/icelandic duo called My Bubba {if you like whimsical folk music you will love them} – I am bathed with the sense of the seasons changing. There is a new lustre in the light as the angle of the sun changes, and the crisp mornings have taken any sense of urgency out of the day. I’m looking forward to enjoying cosiness again, and welcome the nightly release from the heat, embracing the crispness of the air and the more oblique glow of the sun; nature’s way of inviting us into a gentler way of moving.

Like little squirrels, we enjoy the rituals of Autumn, taking prompts from the garden to get ready for the Winter ahead. At this time we harvest the quince trees and cook the fruit down slowly; there are few smells more divine than that of quince roasting to a deep red in the oven. The pulling out of the summer vegetables from the patch, thanking them for feeding us so well when we craved nothing more than fresh tomatoes and cucumbers during the blasts of heat. Making pesto with all the basil that is still around, and eating it on dishes that ease us out of the last days of summer.

Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh herbs Sweetpea Darlingheart -3-2

It’s always amazing to me how this shift happens seemingly overnight. Just like that, the change is in the air and in the trees and within our souls – there is no need for prompting from a calendar – when you live somewhere that gets all the seasons, a simple walk outside will do the trick. It feels like the time to get hands dirty again, roll up the sleeves and prepare for the time ahead. Harvesting, preserving, tucking in the garden and the children once more.

A time to come together again as a family to perform the rituals of this time of year.

And perhaps to get out the knitting, if you’re into that, as I certainly am.

Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh herbs Sweetpea Darlingheart -2-2 Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh herbs Sweetpea Darlingheart -4-2

This year, I managed to successfully grow one single pumpkin. A renegade vine on the front footpath, sprung from the diggings out of the chicken hutch that were used as compost. I did actually manage to grow two, but it seems one was too tempting for a passerby… I hope they made themselves something delicious, although I fear they picked it a tad too early.

I’ve tried growing pumpkin every year for the past few, never to get a single pumpkin worthy of eating. Usually the possums take a single bite out of each one when they are still tiny, causing them to wither and drop from the vine. So this year I decided not to bother trying at all; but nature took its course, which always seems to be the most successful way with pumpkins, and we have ended up with the first good fruit, ever. It won’t make us many dinners, perhaps just one or two, but it’s pretty sweet just the same. Growing something from nothing is always a bit of a wonder.

Roasted Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh herbs, feta and toasted almonds

I’ve made variations of this salad for years, in fact a dear friend of mine recently called it my ‘signature dish’, bless her. It’s my fall back salad; it has the ace combination of sweet, fresh, crunchy and creamy that always makes me feel totally happy, and completely satisfied just having salad for dinner. This salad uses roasted pumpkin and lots of fresh green herbs, which also seem to be bountiful in the garden at this time of year – I like adding a crumble of feta for creaminess and some toasted almonds for crunch, but you could easily substitute with diced avocado and toasted pepitas or a little labne and walnuts; likewise rocket is a great addition or replacement for the herbs. I often serve it with a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a little honey, or just a splash of red wine vinegar.

Jap pumpkin (also know as Kent, or Kabocha in the US) is my favourite to use for this recipe because it is sweet and full of flavour; if you are buying an already cut pumpkin look for one with darker orange flesh, these are the tastiest. It also has a delicious skin that becomes tender once roasted so in my opinion you should definitely keep it on; the skin also helps the moons hold their shape once cooked. My favourite part of the pumpkin are the caramelised edges it gets, sticky and sweet and savoury all at once. If you’re the kind of person who makes gravy, then making gravy in a pan that has had this golden pumpkin roasted in it would make it absolutely delicious, I am sure; just right for serving alongside roasted chicken.

Roasted Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh green herbs, toasted almonds and goat’s feta

••• Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a light meal •••

Active time : 10 minutes  + 30 – 40 minutes roasting

• Vegetarian • Gluten free • Grain free •


650g jap pumpkin, sliced into crescent moons around one inch thick
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
Good pinch of salt flakes
Good crack of black pepper
1 tablespoon dukkah
1 cup of fresh green herbs such as parsley, dill and mint
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
½ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil, for drizzling


Preheat your oven to 180°C fan forced. Drizzle a baking tray with some olive oil and arrange the slices of pumpkin so they do not touch, spreading them over two trays if you need to – squeezing the pumpkin too close together makes it more likely to steam and less likely to get those delicious toffee edges, trust me, it’s worth the extra washing up. Drizzle with a little extra oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking, or until the pumpkin is tender and has those burnished edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Arrange the cooled pumpkin on a platter or in a large salad bowl, and scatter with the tablespoon or so of dukkah. Roughly chop the herbs, before sprinkling on the pumpkin. Drizzle with the garlic oil and the pomegranate molasses, crumble the goat’s fetta on top and sprinkle with the toasted almond pieces. This salad travels well so is a wonderful thing to eat at a picnic with friends.

Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh herbs Sweetpea Darlingheart -5-2

 

Pumpkin Moon Salad with fresh green herbs, goat's feta and toasted almonds

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 as a side, 2 as a light meal Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 650g jap pumpkin, sliced into crescent moons around one inch thick
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Good pinch of salt flakes
  • Good crack of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dukkah
  • 1 cup of fresh green herbs such as parsley, dill and mint
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  • ½ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil, for drizzling

Instructions

1

Preheat your oven to 180°C fan forced. Drizzle a baking tray with some olive oil and arrange the slices of pumpkin so they do not touch, spreading them over two trays if you need to - squeezing the pumpkin too close together makes it more likely to steam and less likely to get those delicious toffee edges, trust me, it’s worth the extra washing up. Drizzle with a little extra oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2

Roast in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking, or until the pumpkin is tender and has those burnished edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

3

Arrange the cooled pumpkin on a platter or in a large salad bowl, and scatter with the tablespoon or so of dukkah. Roughly chop the herbs, before sprinkling on the pumpkin. Drizzle with the garlic oil and the pomegranate molasses, crumble the goat’s fetta on top and sprinkle with the toasted almond pieces.

Notes

• Vegetarian • Gluten free • Grain free • This salad travels well so is a wonderful thing to eat at a picnic with friends.

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