Get your chops around this – colourful, crunchy, bursting with flavour, and so good for you!
Limp or watery broccoli salad should be banned from the face of the earth.
750g (1¼-1 ½ pounds) firm-fleshed pumpkin (I use grey-skinned crown pumpkin) Olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 red peppers (capsicums/bell peppers) 500g (about 1 pound) broccoli, cut into florets 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1½ Tbsp sherry (or red wine) vinegar 1 Tbsp finely chopped shallots 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed Handful of basil leaves ½ cup black olives 100g (3-4 ounces) feta cheese
1 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Peel pumpkin, remove seeds, then cut flesh into small cubes. Put pumpkin in a shallow ovenproof tin or dish, such as a Swiss roll tin (jelly roll pan), lined with baking (parchment) paper. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper, then lift the sides of the paper to help mix the pumpkin pieces with seasonings and oil. Bake pumpkin in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until nearly tender and lightly golden. Cool.
2 Roast peppers by putting them in the flames of a gas element or over a barbecue grill and cook until charred, turning with tongs. When completely blackened, transfer to a plate, cover with paper towels and leave until cool. Slip off blackened skins – easily done using paper towels – cut peppers into fat strips, reserving any juices to add to dressing.
3 Plunge broccoli into a saucepan of lightly salted water and cook for 3 minutes only, then drain and refresh with icy cold water. Dry off with paper towels.
4 Whisk extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, shallots and garlic together in a small bowl with ½ a teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste, and any reserved pepper juices.
5 Put broccoli, pumpkin, peppers, basil and olives in a large bowl and toss carefully together. Rewhisk dressing and pour it over salad, then toss very carefully, adding feta, and serve immediately.
The main thing to watch here is not to overcook the pumpkin. In a bat of an eye it goes from nearly cooked enough to cooked too much. You want to catch it at the point where it still has some resistance so that it will hold up in the salad. And be aware that it continues to soften with its own steam as it cools down, so factor in that as well. If you overcook it, toss everything else with most of the dressing, add in pumpkin and drizzle with remaining dressing.
You can of course char the peppers under an oven grill. Alternatively, cut peppers into chunks, drizzle with a little oil and roast them in a hot oven until browned and semi-tender.
Also check out Broccoli Stir-fry with Chilli, Ginger & Oyster Sauce