Ok. Confession time.
This recipe was originally ‘Maple-roasted pumpkin and CHICKEN salad with strawberries and caramelised macadamias’. Ain’t no chicken to be seen in these photos, obviously. The truth is, I got so used to making it without chicken over the years with my gradual transition to pescatarian life, that I completely forgot to photograph it with chicken when I reshot it. I considered reshooting it again, but the thought of all the wasted hours made me want to cry, and so here we are, sans chook. In all honesty, it works way better as a side salad without meat anyway. BUT. If you’re a meat-eater and you want some protein in there to make it more of a main, the pumpkin, feta, strawberries and macadamias work sublimely with BBQ roasted chicken. Just sayin’.
I’m a total sucker for anything that combines sweet and savoury (ello fig paste and double brie, honey and peanut butter, and my ultimate vice – maple syrup on fried chicken 🤤🤤🤤). I’m not claiming that the sweet and savoury marriage in this salad is as lifechanging as honey and PB, but it’s definitely a party in your mouth.
I find myself making this salad all year round, but there’s no denying its utter summeryness. Whether it’s Sunday dinner at home, a casual picnic (when I’m ‘casually’ trying to impress people), or a festive bring-a-plate bbq, this salad has been one of my top go-to’s since I first posted it in 2016.
It’s simple and straightforward enough to whip up on a weeknight, but the strawberries and caramelised macadamias give it some extra pizzazz, making it perfect for entertaining. Serve it while the pumpkin is still warm if possible because the edges will be all caramelised and chewy. If you need to make it in advance, no worries – it’s still delicious at room temp!Print
- ¼ Jap pumpkin (approx 800g), seeds removed, cut into 1cm slices and then cut in half (skin on)
- 1 cup (130g) macadamias, halved
- 1 tbs + 3 tsp pure maple syrup (for two separate components)
- 1 tbs melted coconut oil
- 200g leafy salad mix of choice, organic if possible
- ½ punnet cherry tomatoes (approx. 100g), halved
- 1 punnet strawberries (200g), sliced
- 5 spring onions, chopped (green part only)
- ¼ cup (35g) pepitas
- Small handful each fresh basil and flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- ½ tsp dried oregano leaves
- 100g Danish or goats feta
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil, to dress
- Balsamic vinegar, to dress (optional)
- Sea salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 170*C and line a tray with baking paper.
- Combine the macadamias and 3 tsp maple syrup in a small bowl. Pour onto the tray and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden and caramelised. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
- Increase the oven temperature to 200*C and line one large tray (or two smaller trays) with baking paper.
- Place the pumpkin, olive oil, and 1tbs maple syrup in a large bowl and use your hands to coat evenly. Arrange the pumpkin in a single layer on the lined tray and sprinkle with dried oregano and salt. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until tender and golden. When the pumpkin looks almost done and has 5 minutes to go, remove from the oven and sprinkle the pepitas over the top. Return to the oven for 3-5 more minutes or until the pepitas have toasted, then remove from oven and set aside. If you’re using two trays, you may also want to swap their positions halfway through roasting to ensure even cooking. This salad works best when the veggies are a little on the ‘under’ side – still soft in the middle but caramelised and chewy around the edges. Don’t let them dry out too much as the delicious gooey maple will begin to burn!
- When ready to serve, arrange the salad leaves in a serving bowl or platter. Drizzle with olive oil and top with spring onions, fresh herbs, cherry tom’s, strawbs, pumpkin, feta, macadamias, and pepitas. Finish with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of dried oregano. Serve with balsamic vinegar on the side for those who want it – a tiny drizzle goes perfectly with the strawbs, basil and feta! Enjoy on its own or as a side to fish or poultry. Fantastic with roasted chicken.