We were having friends over for a relaxed barbecue dinner and so that our kids could play. I wanted something simple, but different. This tasty pumpkin and feta salad fit the bill perfectly!
The star of this salad is the dressing. The maple syrup adds a subtle sweetness and lovely woodsy-ness that would be missing if you used honey or sugar instead. This goes wonderfully with the understated sweetness of the butternut pumpkin. Make are you use A grade syrup and not any imitation stuff!
Apart from roasting the pumpkin (butternut squash), which you can do in advance, this salad really is quick and easy to put together. You can choose the temperature of your pumpkin depending on you preference and time: both chilled and warm work well. If you don’t have any pumpkin, you can substitute sweet potato.
Likewise, you can use lamb’s lettuce (a.k.a. Mâche or Feldsalat) or baby spinach, or even a butter lettuce torn into small pieces. Watercress would also be a nice addition.
You can change up your nuts, too. I used a mixture of pine nuts and cashews, but you could use one or the other. Alternatively, change the nuts for pumpkin seeds and add a teaspoon of pumpkin seed oil to the dressing. Whatever you have on hand and suits your tastes.
In any case, it is better to use unsalted (raw) nuts, rather than roasted and salted. Pre-salted nuts will often overpower the subtlety of the rest of the salad.
This salad works well as a side salad, but is filling enough to have just on its own (then the recipe will serve 2-3 people).
One of Mum’s favourites
Mum loved this tasty pumpkin and feta salad. She loved almost everything pumpkin as long as it was savoury, and tried to pass this pumpkin love onto us. In contrast, she hated sweet potato with a passion. I have no idea why because they are not all that different. Still, this salad definitely had to be made with pumpkin if Mum was going to eat it.
Tasty pumpkin and feta salad
Serves 4 as a side salad
- 1 packet lamb’s lettuce (150 g)
- 300 gr butternut pumpkin, cut into mouth-sized chunks
- small handful of pinenuts
- small handful of cashews
- 150 g feta cheese
- 2 tblsp. of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup
- 1 tsp. sweet or dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to season
- Place pumpkin chunks in a well-oiled baking pan. Season with salt and pepper and use your fingers to mix the pumpkin until all the chunks are coated in oil.
- Place the pan in the oven (180°c). Roast for about an hour, taking care when turning the pumpkin over after half an hour.
- Once the pumpkin chunks have started to brown and are soft in the middle, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Crush the cashews in the palm of your hand and add to a small (dry) frypan. Add the pine nuts. Fry the nuts over medium heat, tossing the nuts occasionally until the nuts start to brown, being careful not to burn them. Sprinkle with salt.
- Wash the salad and add to your salad bowl.
- Crumble pieces of the feta into the bowl.
- Add the nuts and pumpkin to the salad bowl.
- For the dressing, place the remaining ingredients into a cup and whisk with a fork until well combined. Season to taste.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Alternatively, you can serve the dressing on the side.