Warm Pumpkin & Red Onion Salad

  It's officially pumpkin time and I'm getting in early this year with a savoury dish that will knock yer socks off. There are so many ways to serve pumpkin but I adore it simply roasted and served in a warm salad alongside a few of my other favourite seasonal ingredients ... cavolo nero being just one! There's certainly a lot happening in this plate (what with the crunchy toasted pine nuts, chewy raisins and creamy tahini, maple dressing) but each component plays a vital part in bringing these incredible ingredients together in one harmonious plate of yum. I honestly can't think of a better way to welcome in this most glorious time of year - almost like a gentle farewell to Summer and a fond hello to Fall.   Walking around Loe Bar last Sunday and watching all the autumnal colours appear almost before my very eyes made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, I couldn't wait to get cracking with all my harvest-time cooking. With so much incredible produce at our disposal at this time of year, I can't help but get so excited for the season ahead ... crumbles, pies, stews and so much more. Bring it on!

 

what you'll need

1/2 medium-sized edible pumpkin

2 red onions

1 heaped tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp chilli flakes (plus more to serve)

4-5 stalks of cavolo nero or kale

1 large garlic clove

1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

1 tbsp raisins

sea salt

 

for the tahini dressing

1 tbsp tahini

juice 1/2 orange

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tbsp maple syrup

salt & pepper

 

what you'll do

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Cut the pumpkin into wedges, scoop out the seeds and add to a large baking dish along with the quartered red onion ... I like to keep the skins on for cooking, as they retain their shape much better - you can peel it off once cooked.

 

toss the pumpkin and red onion in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, chilli flakes and pepper - don't salt them at this stage or the vegetables will leech their juices and lose that 'roasted' quality. Roast for around 45-50 minutes until soft - the red onion may be cooked a little sooner, in which case remove with a slotted spoon and set aside until needed.

 

heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. finely slice the garlic clove and add to pan. gently sautee for a minute or two, ensuring it doesn't colour before tearing in the cavolo nero (or kale). season with salt and pepper and stir fry on a medium-high for several minutes - you're aiming for a slightly crispy texture.

 

heat a small dry skillet and toss in the pine nuts. toast over medium-high heat, shaking frequently to ensure they don't burn - 5-7 minutes should suffice.

 

place all the dressing ingredients into a pestle and mortar and vigorously mix until smooth.

 

once the pumpkin wedges are perfectly roasted, remove from oven, season with salt and pepper, and set aside for a few minutes to let them cool slightly. now it's time to build your salad ...

 

place the pumpkin wedges on a large platter-style plate before dispersing the cavolo nero. scatter over the red onion, pine nuts and raisins before finishing with the creamy tahini, maple dressing. finish with a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes. serve at room temperature for an impressive starter or divide between two for a main course - it's excellent served alongside some freshly cooked millet.