I am the eldest of three kids and my brother and sister and I are all quite close in age. We aren’t exactly children anymore (ummm, I’m turning 29 in a little over a month) but even in our twenties, there are still some Christmas family traditions that we insist upon, sometimes much to mum and dad’s dismay.
I remember the year that mum decided to stop putting up the stockings. I think I was probably around 18 at the time, but I was devastated. It wasn’t about the presents in them, but the tradition and amazing memories from our childhood that mum and dad had given us. I assure you that it didn’t take me long to put my big girl pants on and get over the stockings and the fact that we still insist upon some of our much-loved traditions to this day is only proof of how amazing mum and dad have always made Christmas for us kids.
Our funniest tradition perhaps is how we give out presents in our family. Each year someone plays Santa, they get to wear the Santa hat and they are in charge of giving out the presents. We all sit under the tree and ‘Santa’ hands out one present at a time. Another present isn’t given out until the last present has been unwrapped, a hug given in thanks, discussed and generally oohed and aahed over. It can take up to an hour to go through this process and I absolutely love it. Poor Key, the first time he experienced this extravaganza, I think he was a little overwhelmed :)
This roast pumpkin salad would be lovely as part of a Christmas meal. It can be prepared a few hours in advance with the dressing and nuts then added at the last minute. If you are preparing this salad at home to take to a party, put the pine nuts and dressing in separate small containers or a plastic bag and sit them on top of the salad. Then cover the bowl tightly with cling film and you’ll just need to add the dressing and nuts and toss it all together before serving.
The ingredients in this salad are inspired by a salad that mum used to buy for me years ago when she used to work in the city on a Friday morning. We worked together in Dickson so she’d pick it up in the morning and bring it back for us to eat every Friday for lunch. I definitely looked forward to Fridays because of it :)
Cumin and pumpkin are a match made in heaven in my opinion. I rarely roast pumpkin without adding some cumin to it.
This salad is quite versatile. We often eat it with our dinner while the pumpkin is still warm but it’s also great once the pumpkin has cooled right down.
For presentation worthy of Christmas lunch, you can dress the plate instead of the salad. This stops the salad leaves going soggy if dressing in advance and it also means that the salad won’t turn too brown as some balsamic based dressings tend to do.
Roast Pumpkin Salad with Feta and Spinach
Ingredients – Serves 5-6 as a side salad
- 300g (around 2 cups) of pumpkin that’s been peeled and roughly chopped into medium sized chunks
- 2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of olive oil
- 4 large handfuls of washed baby spinach leaves
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- ½ cup of firm feta that’s been cut into large chunks
- 10 large kalamata olives, pip removed and roughly sliced
- 4 tbs of balsamic glaze
- 4 tbs of pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Toss the pumpkin chunks in the cumin, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt flakes. Place them on the lined tray and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and cooked through.
- While the pumpkin is roasting, toss together the spinach leaves, red onion, feta and olives in a large mixing bowl.
- Once the pumpkin has roasted, add it to the salad leaves and toss together.
- Drizzle the balsamic glaze all over the serving bowl or plate. Place the salad on top of this and add the pine nuts and toss the salad and dressing altogether, just before serving. Alternatively, the dressing can just be tossed through the salad.
- Great served warm or cold.