Roast Pumpkin Salad with Pancetta, Grana Padano and Pumpkin Seeds
I awoke to a heavy white frost today with flocks of iridescent starlings on the lawn…….my trip to the hen-house was accompanied by crunching footsteps as I made my way over sparkling white grass, and I could sense the eyes of hungry blackbirds watching my progress, waiting for their breakfast to be served…..the hens were reluctant to leave their straw clad house and peeped out from behind the door, they have lived through snow and weren’t that keen when it arrived, the heavy white frost obviously brought back chilly memories. The clocks had gone back last night, so I was awake early, well, at my usual time which was now earlier! Luckily the fire was still burning in the wood-burning stove from last night, so all I had to do was empty the grate underneath and throw another log in, that meant that my baking and cooking day could start as soon as breakfast was over……
……a trip to the pantry confirmed what I already knew, I still had half a pumpkin left that needed to be used today.……I used the other half last week in a big pot of Bonfire Chilli with Beef, Chocolate and Pumpkin, and although my pantry is in back of the house, in the old stable block, with stone walls and old flagstones on the floor and is very cool, it wouldn’t last another day. The seeds would be handy for feeding the birds too. I have had this recipe in my head for a few days now. I love salads, even when it’s cold, and I wanted to try to create a salad that was a combination of roast vegetables served on a bed of salad leaves; the pumpkin would be perfect for roasting, especially with pancetta and pumpkin seeds. To emphasise the pumpkin flavours, I decided to make a dressing with some pumpkin oil, and, as I still have a big chunk of Grana Padano cheese left from my La Cucina Caldesi Masterclass, that could be added for the final flourish.
Whilst the pumpkin was roasting, I made my way to the bottom of the garden to feed the birds; I sometimes wished I could wave a magic wand and have somebody come over to help me with the garden – I have been looking at garden designers on-line lately, and really fancy having a go at making my garden more eco-friendly and sustainable for wildlife and birds. It’s already very bird, insect and bee friendly, but I would like to add owl boxes and maybe have some bee hives too. But, back to the kitchen – the smell of roasting bacon and pumpkin hit me as soon as I opened the door, all I had to do now was to set the table, and arrange the salad leaves on to the plates, then lunch was ready – not a traditional Sunday lunch I know, but I have something a little heartier planned for later tonight. I had some Beetroot and Walnut Bread Rolls already made from yesterday, (recipe to follow later) which were sitting in the warming drawer at the bottom of the Aga, the butter was on the table along with a glass of crisp white wine, all I had to do now was round up the diners!
Traditional this may not have been for Sunday lunch, but it was delectable with the earthy sweetness of the pumpkin counteracting the saltiness of the cheese and pancetta, all bound together in a fruity and yet tangy dressing…...this recipe would also make a colourful starter for any autumn or winter dinner party, and would be the perfect way to start a Thanksgiving Dinner or even Christmas Eve supper….if you are catering for vegetarians, as I often so as my parents and sister are vegetarian, just ditch the bacon (pancetta) and add extra cheese, or, maybe some pan-fried chestnut mushrooms would be a great substitute. I have to leave you now, I just popped online to share this seasonal recipe, but I have to away to the kitchen again, to bake a cake…….a BIG celebration cake for a VERY special birthday for next week – more about that later! Have a FAB Sunday darlinks! Karen PS: Did you all enjoy the extra hour in bed this morning?
I am entering this into Cooks Joy Halloween Fiesta: