Gastronomically speaking, it can be a confusing time of year. Longer days and slightly balmier temperatures tell us salad season is near. But the fact we still need our jumpers and coats leaves us equally in want of warming comfort foods. Enter the warm salad: A happy medium between crisp freshness and hearty wholesomeness.
Warm salads help administer your 5+ a day, with that comforting temperature we can’t help but crave in cooler times. Here’s some ideas for creating your own colourful, all-season salads.
LAMB AND ROAST VEGETABLES: Healthy and hearty is covered with a Greek-inspired blend of pan-fried lamb and oven roasted pumpkin, onion, and beetroot, all seasoned with cumin, chilli, and cinnamon. Add crumbed cauliflower (pan cooked for a quick 5 minutes) and pistachio, walnuts, linseed, mint leaves, and a tangy tahini dressing.
ROAST PUMPKIN AND PEPITA: Reduce your food waste by roasting pumpkin seed pods alongside the flesh from the same vegetable. Wash and pat the seeds dry, and roast for about half the time as you do the flesh. Drizzle the finished results with honey, apple cider vinegar and top with labneh or feta, and refreshing mint.
BUCKWHEAT AND BEETROOT: This salad (pictured) is an easy combo of roast beetroot, sautéed mushrooms, and onion, all mixed with cooked buckwheat and topped with fresh herbs and roughly chopped, lightly toasted hazelnuts. Sprinkle with feta, or add some fried haloumi, and finish with a chef’s kiss.
A warm pumpkin and pasta salad is like autumn on a plate, so we’ve put together one of our culinary favourites in time for the seasonal changeover.
1 medium sugar pumpkin yielding 2 cups pumpkin puree
2.5 cups orecchiette pasta (or other pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sage, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Half teaspoon nutmeg
Salt to taste
1.5 cups chicken broth
Half cup sour cream
2 cups packed spinach
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Slice sugar pumpkin in half and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes before removing from oven and peeling off the skin. Puree with a potato masher or in a food processor. If time is of the essence, use a can of unsweetened pumpkin puree.
Cook orrecchiete (or another type of pasta) in salted water until very al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
In a large skillet heat olive oil. Saute onion, garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and nutmeg, seasoned with salt, until the onions are soft and translucent, then transfer into pasta pot.
Stir pumpkin, chicken broth, sour cream and spinach into the pasta mixture. Spread in a greased baking dish.
Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and cheese and bake in a preheated 200 degree C oven for 30 minutes.
Serving suggestion: Chuck in some chorizo sausage or fried diced chicken if you prefer a meatier version.