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My roasted Pumpkin, Cranberry and Almond Salad is perfect for any occasion or family gathering.
However, I’m thinking that with Christmas just around the corner, this roasted pumpkin salad will be ideal as a colourful and nutritious side dish. As an added bonus, for those who have family or friends with specific dietary requirements, it is also vegan, gluten free and dairy free.
Don’t be deterred by the fact that you need to roast the pumpkin. I do understand that many salads comprise ingredients that don’t require cooking and are quick to get on the table. However, this really is extremely easy to prepare. There’s a total of 30 minutes cooking time. The end result is pleasing; the gentle caramelisation that occurs with the roasting intensifies the pumpkin’s sweet flavour. Whilst that is occurring, you can get on with preparing the other ingredients.
On a large serving platter, I first prepare a bed of peppery rocket.
Into the oven, whilst the pumpkin is roasting, I add a small tray of flaked almonds. The roasting makes them crispy and enhances their nuttiness. I pick the leaves from a few stems of fragrant mint and have my dried cranberries ready. That’s the ever-so-simple salad part. The Apple Cider Vinaigrette is equally simple; place all the ingredients into a screw-top jar and shake well to emulsify them.
I’ve decided to make roasted butternut pumpkin the star of the salad. Peeling and slicing a butternut pumpkin is much easier than most pumpkins. Some require a great deal of strength to remove the skin and slice through the flesh. Although, to be honest, depending on the dish I am making, I don’t always remove the skin. Leaving the skin on increases the nutritional value and becomes sufficiently soft to eat. The negative with some pumpkins is that, without sufficient attention, they quickly become soft and mushy. So that’s another point in favour of the butternut; it holds its shape, which is much more aesthetically pleasing.
When the pumpkin is roasted, allow it to sit for a few minutes to settle. Fresh from the oven, it would quickly wilt the rocket. After a brief time, arrange the pumpkin on the rocket. The soft, slightly warm, squash is a great contrast to the cooling greens. Distribute the dried cranberries, toasted flaked almonds and mint leaves, and then drizzle with the dressing.
This salad is not only nutritious, but it is full of delicious flavours. The combination of the roasted pumpkin with the tangy, dried cranberries is complemented by the peppery rocket, toasted, crunchy almond flakes and the sweetness of aromatic mint. It is an appetite-stimulating combination.
You can easily customise the salad according to your taste and the ingredients you have on hand.
I sit the roasted pumpkin on a bed of rocket, but baby spinach leaves or watercress are sufficiently sturdy to stand up to the roasted pumpkin. I use dried cranberries, the slightly sweetened ones. However, pomegranate arils or golden raisins would also work well. And you could switch up the flaked almonds. Toasted pumpkin seeds, pine nuts or pecans would also be suitable.
If you would like to make the salad more substantial, whilst still keeping it vegan, you could add some canned chickpeas. Some crumbled, fresh, goat cheese is also a delicious vegetarian option if you don’t need to keep it vegan. And if you’re catering for a large number of people, simply increase the number of ingredients.
I love the colours of the salad; the orange of the pumpkin, the deep red of the cranberries and the vibrant green accent of the rocket and mint. To obtain maximum nutrition, a health tip these days is to “eat a rainbow”. You’re off to a good start with this recipe.
If you try it, please let me know in the comments below.
You may also like to check out some more Delicious Salad Recipes!
Pumpkin, Cranberry & Almond Salad
- 500 g butternut pumpkin (squash) after peeling *
- 20 ml olive oil extra virgin
- 10 g flaked almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries * slightly sweetened
- 1/4 cup mint leaves fresh
- 50 g rocket/arugula leaves *
- sea salt flakes and ground black pepper to taste
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- 60 ml olive oil extra virgin
- 20 ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp caster sugar superfine
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- sea salt flakes and ground black pepper to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 200 Degrees C (400 F).
- Prepare the ingredients for the Apple Cider Vinaigrette.In a small glass with a tightly fitting lid, add all ingredients and shake to combine.Taste the dressing and if the taste is not to your palate, adjust the ingredients accordingly until it has the balance you enjoy.
- Peel the pumpkin.
- Cut the pumpkin into 3cm/1” cubes.Wash and dry the pumpkin well.
- Place the pumpkin in a bowl, toss well with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Turn the pumpkin onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
- Roast the pumpkin in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 mins, turning once or twice, until the pumpkin is tender when tested with a skewer.*
- Meanwhile, place the flaked almonds on a small baking tray and roast in the oven for about 4-5 minutes.*
- Place the rocket leaves on a large serving platter.When the pumpkin is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes.Distribute the pumpkin on the rocket.
- Evenly sprinkle with the cranberries, flaked almonds and mint.
- Pour dressing over the salad, and serve immediately.