Last week I met with my goddaughter Evie and her sister Audrey. Evie refers to me as her "fairy godmother" which is a title that I am more than happy to claim. However, as a result I feel compelled to bring her special treats and surprises - she's clearly a rather clever girl! ;)
Her mum Lulu was telling me that Evie is rather obsessed with tutus. In fact she can often be heard proclaiming "I must wear a tutu!" She wanted to wear one after swimming practice and pretty much on every single occasion both inside and outside the home. Riding a bike? That requires a pink sequin tutu. Eating a slice of Swiss cheese? Yep that would be an tutu occasion. And I swear I had nothing to do with this although it does sound like something that I might encourage.
Evie is also known to be on the stubborn side (again nothing to do with me but Mr NQN did give me a look) and she has to have certain things her way. Later that week I caught myself saying to Mr NQN "I must have vegetables!" and then I realised that I had perhaps somehow remotely perhaps unleashed my personality onto my goddaughter who lives 80 kilometres away. Oops!
My declaration about vegetables came at a time when I had some marinated steak but no sides. I could have eaten it in a sandwich and added some caramelised onions but I wanted something slightly healthy to eat along with it. I am slightly obsessed with side dishes because I love vegetables. So I picked up a whole butternut pumpkin that had been sitting in a bowl on the kitchen bench neglected for about two months and made an impromptu salad.
Peeling and slicing a butternut pumpkin is easier than other varieties and I just kept adding flavours that I liked to it. I stashed it in the fridge for dinner and a couple of hours later it ended up being an excellent vegetable accompaniment to the steak. Roasting the pumpkin intensifies and sweetens the flavour and the sesame seeds, feta, chilli and honey add so much texture and dimension to it. What I also liked about it was that it could be eaten cold or hot depending on the hemisphere in which you dwell.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you prefer hot or cold salads? And do you like to be overdressed or underdressed?
Evie and the pink sequin tutu...
Roast Pumpkin Salad with Honey and Feta
Serves 2-3 as a side or 1-2 as a main
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 butternut pumpkin or squash (about 600g or 1.3lbs)
- 3 tablespoons oil (I used a herb oil but regular olive oil will do)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 50g/1.7 ozs feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
- salt and pepper to season
Step 1: Preheat oven to 210C/410F. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Peel the pumpkin and cut into bite sized cubes. Remove the seeds.
Step 2: Toss the pumpkin cubes in the oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Remove from the oven and toss with sesame seeds. Put back in oven for 10 minutes and roast.
Step 4: Drizzle with honey, balsamic vinegar, feta and chilli flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold.