Autumn is pumpkin season. I LOVE pumpkins, particularly the butternut. Unfortunately my failure to grow curcubits this season has extended to the pumpkins - i don't think i'll get any from the sole pumpkin seed i managed to germinate.
Given that the picture at left shows the current size of the two butternuts on the plant, i don't think they will get to any sort of useful size before the first frost. However luckily for me, pumpkins are fairly cheap to buy at this time of year, so there is always one on the go in our fridge.
I don't know where the inspiration for this recipe came from - i don't actually have it written down anywhere. I think it is probably a combination of different recipes.
Alert readers will note that there is no haloumi to be seen in the photo below - i thought i had some haloumi in the fridge, but failed to find it and had to do without. The salad is still very tasty, but the haloumi really makes it. If you are feeling extravagant, feel free to use a whole block of haloumi (200g).
I found the haloumi in my fridge a couple of days later, when looking for something else, which either tells you something about the state of my fridge, or more likely, about how thoroughly i looked.
As with any salad you can mix and match - because i couldn't find the haloumi, i added extra sun-dried tomatoes to the mix, for the lovely burst of flavour they add. If i am in a hurry, and don't have time to shell some walnuts i sometimes omit them, although i love the taste and texture they add to the dish. If i'm making this salad later in autumn or in winter, and i have no basil, i use a big bunch of parsley instead.
PEARL BARLEY and ROAST BUTTERNUT PUMPKIN SALAD
Serves 2 as a main course, with some left over for lunch next day.
1 cup pearl barley, soaked for 1 to 6 hours
1/3 to 1/2 butternut pumpkin
Coconut oil for roasting
100g haloumi cheese, diced
4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small
1/2 cup freshly shelled walnuts
1 bunch of spinach (or 8 leaves perpetual spinach), stalks removed and leaves finely sliced.
handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
Rinse your pearl barley then boil with plenty of water until al dente. You don't want it to end up totally mushy, but still have some bite and texture. The cooking time will depend on how long it has soaked - more soaking = less cooking.
While your barley is cooking, peel and core your butternut, and dice to approximately 3cm. Place a small roast dish in the oven with a knob of coconut oil until the oil has melted. Remove from oven, add the pumpkin and toss until the pumpkin is well covered in coconut oil. Replace in oven and cook until golden and starting to brown, approximately 20 minutes.
Dry toast the cumin seed for a couple of minutes in a medium-hot frypan, then crush lightly in a mortar and pestle.
Combine the olive oil with both the vinegars and the cumin seed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain the cooked barley, place in a bowl and add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes (and any excess oil on the chopping board), along with the dressing. Mix well - this will stop the barley gluing itself into one big lump.
Heat a fry-pan to medium heat and add your haloumi. Fry until golden on at least two sides.Add to the barley, along with the pumpkin.
Roughly break up the walnuts with your hands into quarters and add to the salad. Lastly add your spinach and basil, and toss well.
The salad can be served warm or at room temperature.