Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Roast Pumpkin and Kale Salad.

Roasted Kale, maple roasted pumpkin, balsamic roasted red onion, pumpkin seeds & Berkswell.

A Super Seasonal Salad.

An easy, substantial winter salad. You can feel pleased with yourself about how seasonal it is and smug about how healthy it is AND most unusually for recipes that make you feel virtuous it's delicious too.
The idea for this came from a variety of sources; a radicchio and rocket salad I had at The Pig and Butcher in N1 featuring chunks of pumpkin and a generous sprinkling of grated Berkswell, a recipe from the fabulous Big Flavours & Rough Edges where roast pumpkin is paired with balsamic vinegar,red wine and thyme roasted onions and finally from my deep and abiding love of kale.

Pumpkins from my garden

Just picked Turk's Turbans. The stalks should dry out before harvesting. 

I used Turk's Turban in this recipe, which we grew this year. Turk's turban is lovely to look at and has a good flavour and stores well. Butternut squash or kabocha or ironbark pumpkin would also work well here.


Hurrah! Kale that comes ready washed and chopped.

Kale is the new wonder food. Apparently it will save your life or something like that. This is good news for me and my family because we all love it. The trick with kale is to cook it carefully (no boiling) to avoid it tasting like cattle food. This winter I grew Cavolo Nero (which is posh Italian kale). It's fantastic but given my family's brassica 'habit' we didn't grow nearly enough so it's all gone and I've started buying curly kale instead. 
However, every cloud has a silver lining, as now I'm buying kale I get it in big bags, ready washed and chopped, whereas before (with my own home-grown kale), the kitchen, my face and apron would be covered with minute little fluttering white insects. I have no idea what they were but they were a pain to get rid of, we definitely ate more than I rinsed/scrubbed away.


Berkswell the 'it' cheese of the moment
A hard rinded ewe's milk cheese. This cheese is ridiculously in vogue - incredible but true there are even fashions in cheese. I've seen it on practically every gastropub menu in the last 4 months. However it deserves it's success, it's REALLY good.
If you can't get Berkswell an aged Manchego or even a Pecorino or Parmesan would also work.

Red Onions

Before the addition of the wine and balsamic vinegar.

In this salad they are roasted till they caramelised with red wine, balsamic vinegar and thyme which intensifies the colour and flavour.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds from the Turk's Turban ready to roast.

I used a combination of raw, green, hulled seeds from the supermarket and whole unhulled ones from the pumpkin which I roasted along with everything else.


700g pumpkin or Butternut Squash peeled and cubed
600g kale washed chopped
4 red onions
60g Berkswell or similar
2 tablespoons Pumpkin seeds
Plus pumpkin seeds from your pumpkin
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
100ml red wine
3 tblsp maple syrup
a few sprigs of thyme
About 260ml olive oil (this may seem like a lot but a fair bit is left behind in the pan)

Serves 6 as a main course


Set your oven to 200c on fan setting.
Everything in the recipe is roasted at that temperature.

First deal with the red onions:
Peel and cut each into 8 wedges being careful to retain a piece of the root so they don't fall apart.
Pour 3 tblsps of olive oil into a small roasting pan that will hold the onion segments in a single layer.
Place over a high heat and add the onion stirring them about to distribute the oil taking care not to break them. After a few moments add the wine and balsamic vinegar, season and sprinkle over the thyme. Remove from the heat, cover with foil and transfer to the oven. After 25 mins remove the foil and roast for a further 8-10 minutes.

              What they'll look like once they're roasted
Next peel and cube your pumpkin.
I found about 1.5kg of pumpkin once peeled, deseeded with stringy flesh removed yielded about 750g. If you are using butternut squash you'll get a better yield. You can buy butternut squash ready prepared at some supermarkets.
Mix together 3 tblsps Maple syrup with 4 tblsps olive oil.
Toss the cubed pumpkin in this, season well and roast until the edges are slightly charred and it's soft to the point of a knife - about 20 mins.

From this...

to this..

To maple roasted pumpkin chunks. The sweetness complements the kale.

Once the pumpkin is roasting, rinse any saved seeds and remove any strings of pumpkin flesh, pat dry, toss in a little seasoned olive oil and roast till crunchy.
Very nutty indeed. Roasted pumpkin seeds.

Wash, dry and chop up your kale. I used bags that come ready washed and chopped.
Toss all the kale in 150ml of olive oil to thoroughly coat it. This is approximately 3 tblsps / 200g bag. Spread out in a single layer on a roasting tin, season it and roast for 7-10 mins. Halfway through turn it over, scooping the outside bits into the middle so it cooks evenly.
You may have to do it in batches.
You will end up with some very crunchy kale (not unlike crispy seaweed) and some just slightly crunchy.

Crunchy roast kale 
Finally with a potato peeler, shave 60g of the cheese onto a plate.
Once everything has cooled to room temperature you can assemble it.

Make a bed of Kale, dot half the pumpkin and roast onions about and scatter over half the cheese. Do exactly the same again with another layer of kale making sure you've retained Berkswell shavings for the top, as well as the raw hulled pumpkin seeds and roast, whole ones.
Pretty and healthy

The End (literally)

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