Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paternity leave - Roasted Pumpkin Salad

So 2 weeks paternity leave means I get 2 weeks to focus on my family's healthy eating for a bit. Of course I'm not getting nearly as much time off as I was expecting - a newborn baby and a three year old on school holidays, and a lovely lady who is in a fair bit of pain. But I am now in charge of the shopping and the cooking, so this blog might get a bit of attention as well.

We got home Monday afternoon, so Monday evening was nothing healthy at all. Fried fish cakes, fried sweetcorn fritters, and fried chips. Vicki was keen for fishcakes though, and after not eating proper food all weekend, I figured she could have what she liked. Just a pity that Jasmine poured her juice over the sweetcorn fritters as soon as I put them on the table, but orange juice flavoured fritters weren't actually that bad - just a little soggy.

Last night I got to try something nice though. I've also figured that, seeing as every time I look for a recipe and can never find it, I'm going to use this blog as my own personal recipe book for new things I try that taste good.

So last night - Roast Chicken with Roasted pumkin and baby spinach salad:
(and no, I still haven't started taking photos of the stuff I cook, maybe next time)

Pumkin Salad first:
Recipe came from
  • 1.2 kg of pumkin, cut into 18mm thick slices
  • 1 tbspn oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 40ml balsamic vineger
  • 40ml olive oil
  • 20ml honey
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • 75g toasted slivered almonds
  • 100g feta
The recipe I was following said to roast the pumpkin in the oven, but first, my oven is broken, and second, I always roast chickens on the Weber, so I roasted the pumkin there too. I may have mentioned already that my life would not be the same without my Weber (kettle barbeque). I've got a fairly large charcoal one (because charcoal is clearly more authentic than a gas braai). As a normal (direct cooking) braai, it works fine, but its when you use it for roasting (indirect cooking) that it really comes into its own. I will do my best to write an in-depth analysis on the fine art of braai'ing on the weber sometime soon. For now let me just say - prepare the fire for indirect cooking.

Place slices of pumkin into a roasting pan, drizzle oil over and toss to coat.
Cut the tops of the garlic cloves and add to the roasting pan.
Roast (covered) for 20 minutes.
(Start preparing the chicken)
Take out the cloves of garlic and let cool.
Turn over the pumkin, and return to the fire for another 20 minutes.
I put the chicken in to cook now.

Once the pumkin is tender, remove from the fire and allow to cool.

Make the salad dressing as follows:
Squeeze the garlic out of its peel into a bowl and squash with a fork.
In a clean jam jar - add garlic, balsamic, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper.
Screw lid on tightly and shake well until combined.

Lay a bed of spinach onto the serving platter.
Top with roasted pumkin.
Sprinkle almond slivers over.

Just before serving - pour over the dressing and arrange blocks of feta on top.

I made way too much dressing, so its in the fridge, and I hope it'll still be good the next time I use it. This salad was absolutely delicious. I am definitely going to be making it again, probably the next time I have guests around for a braai. I also only used half the quantities shown above - because there were only 3 of us eating, but we polished the plate because it was so tasty.

Roast chicken is far simpler:
  • 1 large roast chicken (so I can make chicken mayo panini's for lunch the next day)
  • 1 large lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for drizzling
  • Robertson's chicken spice (undoubtedly cheating, but they do make it well.)
Wash the chicken, especially the cavity.
Place lemon in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, just to soften it and get the juices flowing.
While this is going on, coat the chicken with a bit of oil (got to get your hands dirty for this)
Then salt and pepper it.
Liberally shake chicken spice over the whole lot, getting the chicken completely coated.
Remove the lemon from it boiling pot, poke with a sharp knife a few times so that the lemon is leaking. Shove lemon up chicken's bum.

Place chicken on Weber, away from the coals. Cover, and cook for about an hour. The only way I know how to check if the chicken is cooked is to slice it open - try to do this deep into the chicken - where you would carve off the thigh works well. Juices should be clear. See my in-depth braai'ing guide for coal temperature and arranging the fire.

A Masterpiece.

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