Living in Melbourne, home to the world’s most ridiculously changeable weather, it can be hard to plan meals effectively. The forecast might say sunny and 25 all week, but come Thursday it’s a cool 17 degrees and I no longer feel like eating the Thai noodle salad I had planned.
That’s why I like to have salads like this to hand. Delicious both hot and cold, a meal like this offers a little bit of flexibility if I need it. Packed full of healthy vegetables it’s a filling salad, made a little bit naughty with the addition of bacon.
It makes a lovely centrepiece meal, but if you’re doing a dinner party of having a roast it would be perfect as a side to most meats.
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Makes: 2 servings
Prep time: 1 hour
1/4 butternut pumpkin
1 whole onion
4 baby beetroot
6 small garlic cloves
2 rashers bacon
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp. feta cheese
4 pickled beetroot stems
2 cups chopped salad leaves
8 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. vinegar from pickled beet stems
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Wrap the onion in tin foil and place in the oven. If using raw baby beets, make a tightly wrapped tinfoil parcel and place in the oven to cook for 45 minutes, or until tender.
On a baking tray place the unpeeled garlic cloves and butternut pumpkin cut into 2cm pieces (skin on). Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook for 30 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.
For the final 15 minutes cooking time unwrap the onion so it can caramelise slightly.
To prepare the rest of the salad, first cook the bacon. I do this by starting it off in a cold pan over a low heat and letting it cook gently until crisp. Once cooked, slice into 1 cm strips and place in a large bowl with the chopped salad leaves. Next, take the pickled beetroot stems, finely slice them and add to the bowl along with the chopped walnuts.
Once the roasted vegetables have finished cooking add them warm to the rest of the salad. I like to cut the onion into fat quarters and let the soft flesh separate amongst the leaves. Peel the beets and cut into small chunks.
Take the roasted garlic, peel it and place in a mortar and pestle with salt, olive oil and the vinegar. Pound to a thick, well combined liquid before pouring over the salad and tossing all the ingredients together. Finally, crumble over the feta cheese and serve.
Green beans, broccolini, toasted hazelnuts.
This salad is perfect on its own as a meal, but would make a delicious accompaniment to roast meat.