I guarantee you'll go back for seconds and thirds of this – we did!
Salad 4 small pears Juice of half a lemon 1½ Tbsp lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp brown sugar 1 small buttercup pumpkin 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Flaky sea salt Freshly ground black pepper 2 x120g (4 ounce) bags baby spinach leaves 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved ½ cup freshly shelled walnuts (pick off as much skin form the walnuts as you can as it is tannic), chopped Dressing 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Finely grated zest 1 lemon 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp flaky sea salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 Tbsp drained capers, mopped dry with paper towels and chopped 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
After the past weeks’ flooding it seemed as though things had settled down but, inevitably I suppose, the rains came back and we were blanketed by a seemingly eternal stretch of cloud. Yep, autumn is here. Being the veggie freak I am, this means that my salads need considerable beefing up. Introducing my roast pumpkin, spinach and pear salad – possibly one of the most delicious combinations of fruit and veg ever. The pears are juicy and sweet and complement the creaminess of the buttercup pumpkin while the saltiness of capers and freshness of lemon balance out their richness. Thyme and a scattering of roasted walnuts make this salad super savoury and moorish – I gaurantee you’ll go back for seconds and thirds just as we did.
And the trick with a spinach salad, so you don’t end up with a yucky chalky sensation in your mouth, is to use plenty of salt and lemon in the dressing. Yep, you can’t be stingy here.
1 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Peel pears, cut in half and scoop out pips. Rub pears with lemon juice then put them cut side up in a shallow ovenproof tin (I use a Swiss roll tin/jelly roll pan) lined with baking (parchment) paper. Drizzle with lemon oil and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn carefully with a fork and spoon and return to oven for 5 minutes more, or until barely tender and lightly golden; the ideal is to cook the pears until they have just lost their hard edge but haven’t yet become soft, because they will soften down a little more as they cool.
2 Increase oven temperature to 210°C (about 410°F). Cut pumpkin in half with a sturdy knife (see FURI knives), remove seeds, then cut into wedges. Rub generously with oil then lay slices in one layer in a shallow roasting tin lined with baking (parchment) paper. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden and barely tender, turning once. Cool.
3 Wash and dry spinach leaves, remove any large stalks. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
4 Once pears and pumpkin are cool, cut pumpkin into large cubes (you’ll need 2 cups) and put it in a large bowl with the spinach (if the leaves are large, tear into bite-sized pieces) and tomatoes. Rewhisk dressing and add three-quarters of it to the salad bowl. Toss lightly then divide between 4 bowls. Top salads with pear halves, drizzling with any syrupy juices, and scatter with walnuts. Whisk remaining dressing and spoon over pears. Serve immediately.