Do you have a 'go to' salad? You know the salad you can make with your eyes shut. The one that when someone says "Just bring a salad", that's the one you bring. Yes? Well my 'go to' salad was a spicy roast pumpkin, feta and olive salad from Bill Granger's book 'bill's food'. I love it. Problem is a low fat dairy-free diet means no feta. I know feta is made from sheep and/or goat's milk but it's still out for me.
How could I give the salad some creaminess without using feta? Answer - Pine nuts. So here's my 'go to' salad without feta.
800g pumpkin cut into 2cm cubes (I used butternut)
100g baby spinach leaves
20 kalamata olives, pitted
pine nuts, lightly dry roasted (I use a small handful)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt flakes & freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
60ml (3tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil (I often only use 2 tbsp)
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Combine the pumpkin and seasoning mix. Make sure the pumpkin pieces are well coated with oil and seasoning. Bake in a roasting tin or pyrex dish for 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and slightly caramelised. Cool. You can adjust the cumin & cayenne pepper to your liking.
Place the dressing ingredients in a jam jar, screw the lid on and shake to combine.
Remove the seeds from the olives. I use whole kalamata olives and pit them using a special cherry/olive pitter. I like the taste of fresh olives better than the pitted olives in jars.
Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry frying plan until you they are lightly toasted and release their aroma.
Assemble the salad. Start with the spinach leaves, then scatter over the pumpkin, olives, and pine nuts. Drizzle the salad with dressing just before serving.
I took this salad to my in-laws place for lunch. Look at the view from their balcony. Pretty nice huh?
Notes & Variations: You could also use chick peas instead of pine nuts.
Seasonal: Pumpkins are know as a winter squash but are available all year round in Australia.
Nutrition: Being an orange coloured vegetable, pumpkin is very high in vitamin A. It is mildly anti-inflammatory. (source - self nutrition data)
Interesting Facts: Pumpkins are grown throughout Australia, but mainly in NSW and Queensland (source). Whole pumpkins should still have the stem attached, and will keep for months. Cut pumpkin will deteriorate and should be used quickly. Common pumpkin varieties include, butternut, Jap (short for Japanese, also known as Kent), and Queensland Blue (source).