Sunday, 13 January 2013

Roast Pumpkin and chicken salad

Roast Pumpkin and Chicken Salad

We're still going strong on the salads here. As it's not super hot anymore, we can branch out to using the oven, which is great, as pumpkin is back in season! And there is nothing better than caramelised roast pumpkin. And caramelised onion on top. Throw in some roast chicken, fetta and pine nuts and it's so filling that it doesn't even seem like salad!

Start with a chunk of pumpkin. Actually, start by turning your oven up to 180 degrees c. I have a quarter of a kent pumpkin which weighs about a kilo. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon.

Then cut it into long wedges, 2-3 cm thick.
Slice the skin off. (It's much easier doing this with the pumpkin in thin wedges rather than whole)
Then cut the wedges up into pieces that are a few centimetres long- just bigger than bite sized as they will shrink in the oven. 
 Put your pumpkin on a tray with some olive oil (with baking paper if you want to avoid some hard washing up!)
Toss the pumpkin in the oil to coat them before spreading them out across the tray
Grind some pepper over them and place in the oven for 45 minutes at 180 degrees. 
Leave some space in the oven as you can put the chicken in at the same time! 
For a simple marinade, drizzle some olive oil on top with a squeeze of lemon juice
Sprinkle with some fresh thyme and some salt and pepper. Place these in the oven for about 30 minutes.  As my chicken was still a little frozen on the inside they needed 45 minutes in the oven.
While the oven is happily roasting away, slice up some red onion, into thin long slices.
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a saucepan, and over low-mid heat, gently saute the onions
After a few minutes, add a splash of red wine vinegar (or beer actually) to help caramelise the onions off.

After about 10 minutes they will change colour, and have that beautiful caramelised taste- ready to sprinkle on your salad.
You can start preparing you salad dish about now too- wash the baby spinach and scatter on the serving tray
Pull the chicken out of the oven after half an hour. If will be done if the juices run clear if you pierce it. If still pink, throw it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Your pumpkin will be done about now too! They should be well cooked and even a little brown and crispy on the outside. I didn't turn these over during cooking time as I had them on the lowest shelf of the oven so they didn't burn. You might want to turn them if they're getting a little too crispy.

While the oven's still hot, sprinkle a few pine nuts over a tray, and place in the oven for 2-3 minutes to let them toast. 
Don't forget to pull them out before they get burnt! (as I have done on many occasions)
Now it's time to assemble the salad. Spread the pumpkin over the Spinach. I'm just letting the chicken cool for a minute so I can actually touch it to slice it up, so can make the dressing in the meantime. 2 tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. 
Mix all three together, and add some salt and pepper
Now time to slice the chicken up, into about 1cm thick sections
and scatter over the pumpkin.
Then add your caramelised onion
the toasted pine nuts
and some fetta cheese. I just used normal fetta, not the creamy danish type.
Slice it thinly then crumble onto the salad. The bitey fetta really works with the creamy roast pumpkin.
Drizzle your dressing on top
And there you have your lovely roast pumpkin and chicken salad!

Roast Pumpkin and chicken salad

1 large chicken breast
1 kg of pumpkin, diced into 3cm pieces
Olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Sprig of thyme
1 red onion
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup pine nuts
200g baby spinach leaves
50g fetta cheese
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1. Slice pumpkin into small pieces (3cm or so), bake for 45 minutes in a 180 degree c oven until slightly crispy.
2. Drizzle chicken with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, sprig of thyme, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes in oven with pumpkin.
3. Slice onion into thin strips, and saute over medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Cook until it's caramelised (about 10 minutes).
4. Place pine nuts on a baking tray in the oven to toast for 2 minutes.
6. Once pumpkin and chicken cooked through, slice chicken into strips. Assemble salad by placing pumpkin, sliced chicken, caramelised onion, pine nuts and crumbled fetta cheese on top of the spinach.
7. To make the dressing, mix 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper together. Drizzle over salad.

This serves about 3 people (or again, 2 really hungry ones!)

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