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summer side salad with pumpkin & candied walnuts

February 27, 2012

I’ve never been much of a salad fan, nor have I put much effort into making them. But over this last year J has been creating these beautiful side salads to go with our meals and I thought, heck, if he can do it, surely I can! Although I’d never order a salad at a cafe or restaurant, (unless its packed with roast veges and doesn’t have one of those calorie-dense dressings that cancels out dessert without even filling me up) I have, over the summer, been discovering the joy in creating really basic salads.

Like this one. It follows (most of) the rules of Salads 101, it went perfectly alongside last week’s Crustless Spinach and Feta Pie (what a combination for beating that iron deficiency!) and it made for a totally satiating lunch by itself during a busy day at work.

The sweet and crunchy aspect of the salad comes from these candied walnuts which I think really are the star of the dish.

Well, alongside the dressing.. Rich, tangy and mustardy.

Spinach, Feta and Roast Pumpkin Salad with Candied Walnuts
Recipe adapted from Bella Eats

Salad

half a large pumpkin
1/2 bag fresh baby spinach (about 2 cups)
1/2 bag rocket (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Candied Walnuts

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp unsalted butter
large pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups halved walnuts

Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 200˚C. Chop pumpkin into small cubes. Toss in olive oil and roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and golden. Remove from oven and let cool.
Next, candy the walnuts. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a heavy skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking, and allow to boil for 1 minute. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Continue tossing until the syrup forms a glaze on the nuts, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to sheet of foil and quickly separate them with forks.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the mustard, vinegar, and honey in the small bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify, processing for about 1 minute.
Toss together the spinach and rocket. Place in a shallow serving dish. Add the cooled pumpkin and walnuts, then the crumbled feta. Dress the salad or allow guest to dress as desired.

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