Heading into the second weekend of October it is definitely Autumn down here in the West Country! My obsession with all things pumpkin continues and today I am offering you a simple Roast Pumpkin and Fresh Fig Salad with Goat’s Cheese or Smoked Tofu, Beluga Lentils and Chilli Oil. I recommend a rich glass of red wine, a roaring fire and some good company to go with it!
I love warm salads in autumn and winter and I’m a big fan of fruit in with the savoury. This is a soul satisfying earthy salad, full of the flavour of a summer well spent. I’ve used pre-cooked beluga lentils here for a lazy lunch but if you want to cook some up from scratch you’re welcome to! If you can’t find beluga lentils then puy lentils are an excellent substitute.
Roast squash is a staple of my autumn and winter kitchen. I get a bit over excited when big piles of pumpkins start appearing in local markets and I always order a Riverford squash box or two when the season gets underway. I don’t peel my squash before roasting and, unless it is particularly tough, I scoff the skin along with the flesh once it’s on my plate.
Squash is simple to roast, just slice it into segments, use a spoon to remove the seeds, pop it into a roasting pan, drizzle with oil and roast it in a moderately hot oven (200C/180 Fan/390F) for 25 – 45 minutes depending on the heft of your slices and the pumpkin variety. When they are browned and fork soft, they are ready.
If I have an abundance of squash I have a massive roasting session and then freeze what I don’t want to use immediately. Roast winter squash and pumpkins freeze really well and are great to have to hand.
Preparing Fresh Figs
I walked past the fresh figs in my local greengrocers for more years than I care to mention. It was one of those things I had no idea how to eat, I had never encountered one – it wasn’t the sort of thing which appeared on our table in my 1970s and 1980s Midlands childhood! For this fresh fig salad recipe I just simply sliced my figs in half but try placing them on their bottoms and slice downwards almost to the bottom and then again in a cross, give them a squeeze at the base and they will open up like little flowers!
- Salty cheese is a favourite topping for salads amongst the vegetarians in my family while the vegans are very happy with smoked tofu (we like the Tofoo brand which is subtly smoked and nice and crumbly) or with homemade cashew cheese.
- The chilli oil adds a nice spicy kick to this seasonal salad but hazelnut or walnut oil also work really well as does a drizzle of maple syrup if you have a sweet tooth!
- A sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds adds texture and a lovely crunch
If you’re looking for more pumpkin and squash recipes try my Pecan and Pumpkin Brownies (Vegan), Pumpkin Pancakes (Vegetarian), Pumpkin and Ginger Cake (Vegetarian), Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup (Vegan) or this delicious Pappardelle with Squash, Chestnuts, Mushrooms and Sage (Vegan) – perfect for Autumn days!
How to Make Roast Pumpkin and Fresh Fig Salad
This really is as simple as roasting some squash, frying up some onions and mushrooms and then assembling it all together with the other ingredients. It’s quick, it’s delicious and it’s perfect for autumn.
Fresh Fig Salad
- 200 g (1¾ cups) Pumpkin I used Munchkin Pumpkins
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 red onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 150 g (1¼ cups) chestnut mushrooms sliced
- 1 x 250g packet ready cooked Merchant Gourmet Beluga Lentils
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
- 2 figs thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp chilli oil
- 50 g (¼ cup) soft goats cheese or smoked tofu
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 packet of bistro style salad with grated beetroot and baby ruby chard or a salad of your choice, this one is pretty!
- Preheat your oven to 200C/180Fan/390F
- Slice your munchkin pumpkin into segments, remove the seeds, leave the skin on and arrange them in a single layer in a baking tray
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, pop into the preheated oven for 25 – 30 mins until softened and brown in places (turn once)
- While the pumpkin is cooking gently fry the red onion in a little olive oil until soft and beginning to brown
- Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and then until the juices have evaporated
- Add the cooked pumpkin, the beluga lentils and the garlic and cook through gently for 3 minutes
- Season to taste
- Arrange the salad leaves on two plates, top with the pumpkin and lentil mixture and the fig slices
- Crumble over the goat’s cheese or tofu and drizzle with chilli oil
You can jazz this fresh fig salad up a bit by roasting fresh sage leaves along with the pumpkin, throwing in a teaspoonful of dried chilli flakes or by mixing a spoonful of maple syrup in with the chilli oil before drizzling. You could use crown prince pumpkin in place of the munchkins and feta in place of the goats cheese – or leave it out completely and use smoked tofu to make it vegan (I am totally addicted to smoked tofu at the moment, it’s popping up in everything!
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