Served warm, this is one of my favourite winter salads. It’s vegetarian, I eat it all by itself or I serve it with chops, sausages or steak for the rest of the family. It’s also easily made vegan if you omit the feta.
It consists of roasted pumpkin, kumara (more on that below) zucchinis and capsicum. It also has added red onion, my favourite cheese, feta and giving it a little texture, some delicious, toasted, crunchy little pumpkin seeds.
It’s dressed with a maple, mustard dressing. I usually use honey in the dressing but lately have been replacing it with maple syrup, it’s not as sweet and adds a lovely mild, warm sweetness to the dressing.
If you are not from my part of the world you may be asking “What on earth is Kumara?” It was brought to New Zealand by Māori settlers over a thousand years ago from the Pacific islands. They became experts at growing it and grew several different varieties which were all smaller than the ones we know today (the size of Yams). Our modern Kumara has evolved from the introduction of an American variety introduced here in the1850s.and are larger and grown on vines.
We have seven varieties of Kumara in New Zealand but the three most common are:
Red/Owairaka; The most recognised kumara in NZ with red/purple skin and creamy white flesh.
Orange/Beauregard; Has a rich orange flesh and is sweeter than both the red and the golden varieties.
Golden/Toka Toka; Sweeter than red kumara with golden skin and flesh.
Nerdy stuff: I have recently learnt that Pumpkin seeds are also commonly known as pepitas from Mexican Spanish ‘pepita de calabaza‘, meaning ‘little seed of squash’. How cute is that?! I’ll be calling them pepitas from here on in, much cuter! C.mon lil’ pepitas…..time to eat you now….don’t be shy…..
Back to the salad you can roast the vegetables, toast the seeds and make the dressing the day or morning before you want to serve it. Then 20 minutes before you need it just re-warm the vegetables, add the dressing, the seeds, the onion and the feta…..so that makes life easy if you are pressed for time.
1 kg pumpkin / 2 pounds (including skin & seeds)
1 kg / 2 pounds kumara/sweet potatoes (approx 3 large/2 super large)
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon black, cracked pepper
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup canola/vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ cup pumpkin seeds/pepitas
1 small or ½ medium sized red onion
125 g / 4 ounces feta
1 large red capsicum / bell pepper
2 medium-sized zucchinis / courgettes
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Garnish – a few fresh rosemary sprigs
Serves 6 – 8
- As I mentioned above, if you are a beautiful Vegan, simply leave out the feta. 🙂
- Also if you don’t have maple syrup lying around because the kids used it all on their pancakes, use runny honey (or soften some hard honey in the microwave).
- You can also switch the apple cider vinegar for white wine vinegar.
STEP BY STEP
First, place a rack in the centre of the oven and turn it to 160°C/325°F fan bake/convection oven or 180°C/350 °F conventional oven, on bake or roast.
Cut the pumpkin into wedges, deseed them, remove the skin and then chop them into roughly 3 x 3 cm/1 x 1-inch pieces.
Then peel and chop the kumara into roughly the same size pieces also.
Place the vegetable pieces into a large roasting pan and toss them with the ½ a cup of the olive oil and ½ a teaspoon of the black pepper.
- If the pan isn’t large and they are too close together it’ll create steam and they will become mushy around the edges instead of roasting. You can if you like use 2 pans, one in the top half of the oven and the other in the bottom half of the oven, just switch them around when you turn the veggies.
Then lay the rosemary sprigs under the vegetables and…..
…..place the pan in the oven and roast them for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, carefully turn them over with a spatula…..
…..and then return them to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until they are roasted on the outside and tender in the centre. You can leave the oven on.
Leave them in the hot dish, just on top of the oven (if you can) and cover them with aluminium foil to keep them warm (pierce a few holes in the top to let the steam out so they don’t go soggy).
So whilst the vegetables are cooking, into a small bowl (or your food processor bowl) place the balsamic vinegar, the whole grain mustard, the maple syrup and the apple cider vinegar.
Mix it all together and then you need to add the oil, in a slow ‘n’ steady, thin stream whilst whisking at full speed!
- If you add the oil too fast the dressing won’t emulsify. A nice, slow trickle is what is needed. It also won’t emulsify if you don’t whisk fast enough either, eek!
- Using the processor is the safest bet to make a nice stable dressing but it’s more dishes to wash (I’ll take fewer dishes any day!) and well, the whisking can sometimes make your arm feel like it’s going to fall off but I need the exercise so it’s all good!
It should be nice and thick.
- If it’s not thick it’s because either the oil went in too fast or the whisking was too slow.
Lastly, stir in the salt and pepper and then set it aside.
You can also toast the pumpkin seeds, dice the red onion and get the feta ready whilst the vegetables are cooking.
To toast the seeds place them into a small frying pan and place them over a medium heat (no need to add any oil). Tossing them often, toast them for around 3 minutes or until they have browned slightly and puffed up a little.
Then remove them from the hot pan and place them onto a plate or into a bowl.
Also finely dice the red onion…..
…..and crumble or dice up the feta into small pieces, adding both to the pumpkin seeds.
Wash and dry the capsicum and cut it into quarters lengthways. Remove the stalk ends and use the tip of a little knife to remove the seeds (or they easily shake out).
Remove the stalk ends and use the tip of a little knife to remove the seeds (or they easily shake out).
Cut the quarters in lengthways (giving you 8 pieces) and then cut each piece into 3 pieces. Then place them into a small oven dish.
- Mine were approx 2 x 2 cm/¾ x ¾ inch pieces.
Wash and dry the zucchini, cut off the ends and slice them into 1 cm/½ inch pieces.
Add them to the capsicum and toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
Place them into the hot oven for 20 minutes.
Then carefully turn with a spatula and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until they are just tender and nicely browned.
Once nicely roasted, add them to the dish with the other vegetables.
Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs.
If serving now:
Add the pumpkin seeds, the diced onion, the feta and then using a spatula, carefully fold the dressing through the salad.
- It may seem like a lot at first but the warm vegetables soon soak it all up.
Carefully spoon it into a serving dish and garnish with the sprigs of rosemary.
Serving later or the following day:
Let the vegetables cool and then cover both them and the dressing separately and store in the fridge until needed. Just pop the pumpkin seeds in a wee airtight container in the pantry.
Before serving place the veggies into the oven at the original temperature for 15 minutes or until they are really warm.
Finely dice the red onion while you are waiting and dice up or crumble the feta.
Then once the veggies are warmed, fold through the dressing, the toasted pumpkin seeds, the onion, the feta.
Spoon it into your salad bowl or onto your platter.
Garnish with the fresh rosemary sprigs.
Keepin’ it fresh – Well covered in the fridge it should be fine up to 3 days later and is fine just warmed up in the microwave.