The change in Seasons between the warm summer and dusky autumn always seems the starkest of the four. Long days are squeezed into seemingly shorter hours, coldness bites and our menus shift from vibrant citrus to a russet palette.
We’ve had change in our home. My husband has abandoned his long, disheartening commute in favour of working closer to home so we have him for a more minutes in each day. Even these relatively few moments lift the atmosphere and make the days feel simpler for me; I’m able to indulge in food a little more easily and have verve enough to cook for us all.
My youngest baby seems only to eat orange food at the moment so he is in heaven with October’s bounty of carrots, squash and pumpkin, I feel like I’m roasting them every day. So this recipe is an ode to him, though I’m not sure what he would make of parsley and freekah.
This salad is a flawless, auburn Autumnal number. Sweet pumpkin and chestnuts with sour feta and plenty of fresh parsley. I’ve used a gorgeous blue pumpkin; they have a robust flavour and a sweet sticky texture ideal for roasting. And Meet Freekeh – the Middle Eastern grain that is stacked full of protein, very easy to make and has an unusual smoky taste when cooked (once picked, the wheat is roasted over fire to burn away the husks). It is becoming widely available and worth seeking out. But don’t panic if you can’t find it, use cous cous or barley.
We ate this for dinner with nothing more than a glass of water and a bar of dark chocolate for pudding. I hope you all enjoy it.
ROASTED PUMPKIN WITH FREEKEH, CHESTNUTS, FETA AND PARSLEY
PREP TIME – 20 MINUTES
COOK TIME – 40 MINUTES
SERVES – 4-6
1 medium pumpkin, peeled and sliced into crescents
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
50g Freekeh (alternatively cous cous or barley)
1 onion, sliced
180g Merchant Gormet Whole Chestnuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, roughly chopped
100g Feta, crumbled
A handful of Parsley, leaves picked
FOR THE DRESSING:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6.
2. Arrange the pumpkin on two baking trays. Drizzle the 1 tbsp. olive oil over the crescents and gently coat before sprinkling over the chilli flakes. Roast in the hot oven for 30-35 minutes or until the crescents begin to caramelize. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
3. Bring a medium pot of water to boil and add the freekeh. Bring back to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the grains are al dente. Drain excess water and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in large frying pan over a high heat. Add the sliced onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, until softened before stirring through the chestnuts and rosemary. Continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
5. Get your dressing ready by whisking (or vigorously shaking) the crushed garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Taste and adjust according to your pallet, this is the moment to trust your own opinion.
6. Place the squash crescents in a large mixing bowl and add the freekeh, fried onion and chestnuts. Add the parsley leaves and half the crumbled feta. Pour over the dressing and very gently, mix with your hands until the ingredients are combined.
7. Arrange the salad on a platter, season with salt and black pepper and garnish with the remaining crumbled feta and a few extra parsley leaves.