Buttery roasted pumpkin, fresh greens, nutty hazelnuts, and tangy goat cheese, are topped with Vanilla Fig Balsamic Dressing in this fall salad that will compliment any hearty fall dinner, or can be a light meal on it’s own.
The inspiration for this salad came from a cookbook of rustic dishes that I flipped through once upon a time but did not end up purchasing. Mostly because all the recipes involved cooking things in a large fire pit, which I do not have. However, the concept of a salad with roasted pumpkin captured my culinary imagination. In the cookbook, the pumpkin was roasted whole and the salad served inside. While I think that would be a beautiful presentation, I did not have time for roasting a whole pumpkin the night this all came to fruition. I also couldn’t remember all of the components except for goat cheese, which I love. The rest of it came from whatever I had on hand that sounded good.
Our church had a men’s retreat so while the boys were off doing manly things, like contests to see which team could saw through a log the farthest, my friend Jenny came over so we…uh…I mean… ‘the kids’ could play together. 🙂 Jenny brought some venison steaks which was something neither of us had eaten or prepared before. (They were delicious!) My contribution was this salad. Never having made it before, I just hoped it would turn out well. Luckily, I can always count on Jenny to be up for a food adventure!
I’m leaving measurements out mostly because…well…it’s a salad. Make as much or as little as you want. Use whatever greens to pumpkin ratio you are in the mood for. The pumpkin holds up well to being reheated for more salad (or just eating!) on subsequent days. The pumpkin I used yielded enough for about 6-8 generous salad servings.
The essential finishing touch of this salad was the dressing. I used a Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar (obviously infused with figs and vanilla) and Citrus Olive Oil (the olives are crushed with blood oranges to infuse the oil). If you live in southern CA, get yourself to Old Town Temecula to the Temecula Olive Oil Company and get both of these!! They are such a treat!! If you do not, you could probably find very similar items at any grocery store that carries specialty items. If you don’t want to spend the money, I’m sure this would still be great with regular balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 small pie pumpkin (they will be labeled accordingly at the store) This is also excellent with butternut squash if you prefer.
- fresh greens of your choice – I used baby spinach, but you could use arugula, mixed greens, frisee, whatever you like.
- goat cheese
- hazelnuts – roughly chopped
- Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar
- Citrus Olive Oil
- salt and pepper
- Cut the top off of the pumpkin and turn the pumpkin upside down so you have a flat base to set it on. This way it won’t roll around while you are peeling it.
- Use a carving knife to peel the pumpkin.
- Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Scrape out the inner cavity until clean.
- Chop into bite size pieces and place on a baking tray lined with foil.
- Season well with salt and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat.
- Roast in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- When roasted, place desired amount of pumpkin on top of a bed of greens. Sprinkle top of salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese.
- Wisk together equal parts vinegar and oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and drizzle over the top of the salad. (The amount of oil and vinegar you use will depend on how heavily you like your salad dressed and how much salad you’ve chosen to make.)
- Just an extra note: When we eat this as a meal instead of a side salad we add Forbidden Rice and omit the hazelnuts. It is fantastic!!