If you visit here often, you will know that I like to play along over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where twice a year we choose a chef whose food we explore, according to a variety of weekly themes, over the following six months. You will also, most likely, know that our chosen chef for the last six months has been the extraordinary Donna Hay.
They say there is a season for everything, and that being the case Donna Hay has definitely been the perfect chef for my "season" of late. Over the last six months I have been under a lot of pressure, on many fronts, and I have found Donna's simple, yet still packed with flavour, dishes absolutely perfect for those days when I've really been under the hammer. I'm sure that had we been cooking with a more challenging chef, there would have been many weeks in which I just wouldn't have found the time or the energy to participate. So thank you, Donna, you've been a lifesaver!
Sadly, though, it's time for us to say "Catch Ya Later Donna Hay", and choosing a dish for that final fling was no easy feat. However, just as we are saying farewell to the last vestiges of summer in my part of the world, our thoughts are turning to slightly heartier, more warming dishes for our cooler evenings, so something to fit that autumn vibe seemed appropriate.
This Roasted Pumpkin & Couscous Salad, from Donna's book "Fast, Fresh, Simple" is perfect for this time of year. It's still a salad, which is always a preferred meal option for me, anytime of year, but has warm ingredients and enough body and gusto for an autumn lunch or dinner. Actually I would even eat this in the middle of winter, and almost certainly will when it rolls around. As usual I couldn't resist the urge to ring in a few changes. The preserved lemon in the couscous and the honey-cumin dressing really spoke to me of the Middle Eastern flavours that I love, but I thought there was definitely room to "up the ante" a little. Before roasting, I brushed the pumpkin with a mixture of olive oil and za'atar (one of my favourite spice blends of thyme, sesame, sumac, salt, coriander and cumin). I replaced feta with haloumi, mint with parsley, and added in some chopped pistachios for a little extra texture.
This salad was a wonderful combination of tastes and textures - sweetness from the pumpkin and honey, saltiness from the preserved lemon and haloumi, nuttiness of the couscous, crunch of the pistachios, the slight chewiness of the cheese, and the little hits of smoky spice coming through from the za'atar and dressing. Absolutely delicious - this is definitely a dish I will be making many times over in the months ahead.
Roasted Pumpkin & Couscous Salad Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay
from Fast, Fresh, Simple
Makes a substantial meal for 2 people, or would easily serve 3-4 people for a lighter meal or appetiser
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
800g (28 oz) pumpkin, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon za'atar (I used Sami's Kitchen)
1 cup couscous
1-1/4 cups hot vegetable stock
1/2 a preserved lemon, rind thinly sliced, flesh discarded
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
generous handful pistachios, roughly chopped
200g (7 oz) haloumi, fried and sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).
Place pumpkin pieces, in a single layer, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Mix the olive oil and za'atar together, and liberally brush over the pumpkin pieces. Bake in the preheated oven until the pumpkin is tender and golden - 20 to 30 minutes depending on your pumpkin.
Meanwhile, put couscous into a medium sized bowl, add the hot vegetable stock, cover with cling film, and leave to stand until the couscous has fluffed up and absorbed all the stock - about 5 minutes. Stir in the finely sliced preserved lemon rind, chopped parsley and pistachio nuts.
Set a small, very lightly oiled, non-stick pan over medium heat, and fry the haloumi, until golden on both sides and just starting to "ooze". You can either fry it in one large block, then cut into slices once done, or you can cut it into slices first and then fry the slices individually. Remove from pan and set aside.
To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together.
To serve the dish, arrange the pumpkin, couscous and cheese in layers on plates, and spoon over the dressing.
Before we finally say goodbye to Donna Hay (though in my case it will definitely be "Catch Ya Later" rather than goodbye), I thought I would share a little round-up of a few of my favourite dishes from the last six months. I loved these dishes and I'm sure you will too.
If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the fabulous dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links. And don't forget to come back next week, as we begin our cooking adventures with our new chef, the incomparable Nigel Slater.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam.
This is such a lovely salad! Roasting the pumpkin rubbed with zatar sounds good to me. I love it how you always make some changes to suit your own taste, making the dish entirely your own.
And your round-up favourite dishes looks wonderful!
Much as I've enjoyed cooking with Donna Hay, I'm looking forward to try and experience the cooking of Nigel Slater, someone whom I've heard and read of, but have never attempted any of his recipes before. Hope you have a great delicious weekend!
Thank you so much, Joyce - you are very kind. I really love the za'atar with pumpkin - definitely my new favourite I think.Delete
I'm totally looking forward to cooking with Nigel Slater too. I have a couple of his books and have used them a bit, but not nearly enough, so I'm looking forward to getting them out and cooking from them a lot.
I am salivating over those gorgeous dishes. Wish I could still find some pumpkins at this time of year..the salad with salmon looks fantastic too.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Angie. I loved the salmon with the soba noodles - it was probably my most favourite Donna Hay dish, though the pearl barley salad was probably a very close second.Delete
We're big couscous lovers over here. I make a lot of summery salads with couscous (tomato, cucumber, lime or lemon dressing, feta), so this heartier fall version has me very excited. I really want to reach over and steal a piece of the haloumi!ReplyDelete
Nice round-up of favs. Your photos are always lovely.
Michelle, any couscous lover would really enjoy this version, and it is perfect for slightly cooler days - haloumi makes just about any dish in my opinion.Delete
I don't know how I missed this one in the book--I love the za'atar and of course the haloumi. It looks like a very satisfying salad. I want everything on your top Donna recipes list--you even have a couple of salmon dishes that I didn't manage to get to! ;-)ReplyDelete
Deb, I think you'd love this one, and I'm sure you'd manage to put your own spin on it too. I've bookmarked all the salmon dishes that you made - Donna sure has some good ones.Delete
This looks and sounds amazing! All the reason you listed are exactly why I love Donna Hay, no matter how rough of a day I've had, if I know I'm making something from her, I know it will be simple and delicious.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Pam. That is so true ... no matter what kind of day you've had, you can rely on Donna for something quick, tasty, easy and flavourful.Delete
Oh man, you made some really good dishes during this chef challenge!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Susan - it sure was difficult narrowing them down to just these few.Delete
I always enjoy a cool weather salad and this one sounds really delicious, especially with that lovely cheese. (They say bacon makes everything better - personally, I'm a bigger fan of fried or grilled haloumi).ReplyDelete
Love the dishes you've included in your round-up - they all look wonderful.
Thanks, Zosia - you are so right about bacon, but I agree that fried haloumi is even better, and I always think it makes such a great alternative for those who don't eat bacon.Delete
The salad looks wonderful. And I've loved your visit with Donna Hay and can't wait to see what's coming up next.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Beth, and thanks for visiting. Keep watching this space for six months of cooking with Nigel Slater :-)Delete
Your faves would be hard to beat. Thank goodness for PotLuck so we can continue with DH recipes.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Margaret. Yes, I'm certain there will be a few Donna Hay recipes showing up in my potluck choices too.Delete
Impressive cooking AND food photography! I think this pumpkin couscous salad sounds delicious, although I had to look up za'atar and haloumi! It's hard to find pumpkin year-round, but I think I could substitute butternut squash.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Laurie. Butternut would be an excellent substitute, and if you can't find za'atar where you live I am sure you would be able to find plenty of recipes for mixing it up yourself.Delete
za'atar is one of my fave spice blends - this looks so good!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Mireille. I love za'atar too. One of my favourite ways to have it is just mixed with a little olive oil and spread on some warm pita bread, and topped with perfectly ripe chopped tomatoes - one of my favourite lunchtime treats.Delete