Even when I’m in the mood to just potter about the kitchen, I don’t (and I can safely say this) ever cook food that’s demanding. And by demanding I mean both skill-wise and time-wise. If something has to cook for a long time, it has to be minimal prep. And then it needs to cook for a couple hours? With none of my involvement? Sure, I’m game. And with regard to skills requiring finesse – as a naturally slapdash cook I fall heavily in the ‘rough chop’ category.
Which is all to say this: the vegetables will take a little while to cook. About 45 mins. Chopped them up, tossed them with some spices, and bunged it in the oven. I then went to take a shower.
I was back just in time for some casual tearing (lettuce – who chops lettuce?!), transferring, and strewing. We ate the salad with Turkish eggs that came together in the time that it took to fry up some eggs. Lunch was ready.
The spices here: chilli powder and pepper. Pumpkins are sweet to begin with and their sweetness only gets concentrated upon roasting. So we get some heat with chill and pepper. (Go easy on the salt since there’s the feta topping.)
Once the veg are completely cooked through—you’re looking for them to be soft and yielding when you insert a knife through a piece—toss with most of the honey. Also toss your nut of choice (I used pecans) with the remaining bit of honey and put them back in the oven for a final roasting. Honey helps caramelize the pumpkin and cauliflower further and what you’ll end up with are these gloriously dark, burnished spots. All this is extra flavour. Chop the toasty nuts into crunchy shards.
To counter all that sweetness and heat we have a feta-lemon zest topping. This component requires nothing more arduous than zesting a lemon and crumbling some feta. I hope you enjoy your mid-cook shower (and the salad, of course) as much as I did.
PUMPKIN & CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH PECANS & FETA
- 400 grams pumpkin
- 1 medium cauliflower
- 15 pecans (or almonds or walnuts)
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 50 grams feta cheese
- Lettuce, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- Chop the pumpkin into approx 1” cubes. Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Add both to a large baking tray. Toss with olive oil, chilli powder, pepper and salt. (Go easy on the salt since there’s going to be a feta topping.)
- Roast in the middle rack of the oven for 30-40 mins (until the pumpkin is cooked through and both the veg are nicely browned).
- Add 2 tablespoons of honey over the roasted veg. Toss with a spatula. Toss the remaining 1 tablespoon of honey with the pecans. Push the veg to one side and lay out the nuts on the other.
- Put the tray back in the oven, but on the top rack this time. Roast for another 5 mins.
- Crumble the feta cheese into a bowl. Add lemon zest and toss together.
- To serve, add some lettuce to a plate. Top with the roasted pumpkin and cauliflower. Roughly chop the nuts and add. Crumble over the feta-lemon zest topping. Serve warm or at room temp.
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