While out walking today, the leaves’ colours are changing more and more every day. The summer dwindles with more chilly mornings and my Summer of Salads series is coming to a close in a few days (Sept 22).
With this bit of wistful reminiscing: a summer past, an adventure in salads, today’s post is also quite momentous. This is my 200th post! I knew I was a rambling food dork, but 200 of these things is a lot. It can only happen one post at a time. A series of mindful moments to share my adventures in food. Thank you to anyone who continues to follow my adventures. I greatly appreciate any comments and queries that you may have. If I’m never clear enough, please get me to be more thorough in my explanations. My main goal for anyone reading is to just enjoy dinner. It isn’t a chore. It’s a meal. Take the time to smile while preparing it. Smile while eating it. Smile and share. That’s what it’s about.
The autumn-like weather has also brought about a desire to cook more pumpkin and root vegetables. My favourite way to prepare them is always roasting. This method in particular is wonderful for any root vegetable and is actually important to pumpkin because if pumpkin is roasted at a lower temperature, it turns into a soft, mushy purée. A purée is good if you’re making soup, but as a salad, distinct chunks are ideal. This method also makes a beautiful pizza topping with bacon and pecorino cheese. And that flavour combination led to today’s salad. I didn’t use cheese here, but it would be an excellent option if you like. I wanted to add some body to it so lentils are a perfect choice.
Smile and enjoy! 🙂
Maple Chilli Roasted Pumpkin and Parsnip Salad with Bacon Lentils
For the Maple Chilli Roasted Pumpkin and Parsnips:
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp hot sauce (whatever is your favourite hot sauce, I’ve done it with everything from Tabasco and Sriracha to any number of Mexican and Southwest US hot sauces. As long as it’s smooth and not chunky)
1 small sugar pumpkin (about the size of a softball), ends trimmed, seeded and chopped into 2cm/1″ chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 190C/425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil and hot sauce. Add the pumpkin and parsnip chunks and toss to coat. Spread the coated vegetables on to the prepared baking sheet, trying to leave as much of the excess marinade behind. Roast on the lower rack of your oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden on one side. Toss the veggies to ensure an even, candy-like exterior and roast for another 8-10 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool. The exterior will set with a candied coating. Set aside.
For the Bacon Lentils:
2 slices bacon, cut into 1cm (1/2″) strips
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup cooked lentils
In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crispy. Add the onions and sauté for 5-6 minutes until softened and just starting to brown. Add the cooked lentils and toss the bacon and onion flavours in it, sautéeing for a further 3-4 minutes. Take off the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature.
For the salad:
Reserved Maple Chilli Roasted Pumpkin and Parsnips
Reserved Bacon Lentils
In the large bowl with the Bacon Lentils, add the Maple Chilli Roasted Pumpkin and Parsnips, toss lightly with your fingers and divide over two plates if you are serving meal-sized portions, or over 4 plates if it’s a starter/side salad. Serves 2-4.