Celebration Salad

Epic colour means one thing- epic flavour!! Give the simple green salad a miss and try this out at your next dinner party or Christmas gathering instead.  12432933_10206979045667655_1642998259_o

For The Salad- Use your fav combo, this is what I used, all fresh from the farmers market

  • Half a jap pumpkin, sliced how you like (I chose a small pumpkin and sliced it into wedges)
  • Olive oil, maple syrup and salt for roasting the pumpkin (fav spices optional)
  • Bag of mixed greens, rocket or baby spinach (I used a fun forest mix)
  • 1 Cup of sprouts or baby herbs (or something to pretty it up)
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate (freeze dried, dried cranberries or raspberries if not in season)
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled tri colour quinoa 12443464_10206979044347622_1292217523_o
  • Handful fresh mint, chopped finely
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 beetroot, shaved as thinly as possible (I used the stripy candy beetroot, its extra pretty)
  • 1/2 cup mixed toasted nuts and seeds (I used black and yellow sesame seeds, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts, but use what you like). Season them too.

Method:

  • Coat the pumpkin in olive oil and season well. Roast at 180C until it starts to caramelize. Drizzle with maple syrup for the final 5 minutes of cooking.
  • Meanwhile, Mix chopped herbs and half the pomegranate and half the toasted nuts and seeds through the quinoa.
  • Once everything is cool, start layering the pumpkin, greens and quinoa, finishing with a scattering of the quinoa mix, a stack of the pumpkin, scattering of toasted nuts and seeds and pomegranate seeds, and some baby herbs or sprouts to garnish.
  • Dress just before serving, and serve extra dressing on the side coz that stuff is going to be in high demand!
  • Tip: I cook the quinoa, roast the pumpkin and toast the seeds the day before so everything is cool and ready to go.

Kiki’s (that’s me) Epic Basil Dressing:

  • 1 large handful bunch basil leaves- like the WHOLE bunch! A BIG bunch! (2 if they are stingy)
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews (raw macadamias will also work)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • juice of one Lemon, more if needed (have an extra on hand)
  • good pinch pink salt, to taste
  • good splash maple syrup, to your taste
  • 1/2 clove garlic is optional, if you’re into that

This is a great dressing mid week too, and lasts several days in the fridge to make all your salads taste amazing (no point eating a salad unless its amazing right!?). If you’re not feeling fancy pants, you can simply blend everything together, however for entertaining purposes,  quickly blanching your basil will result in a much brighter green dressing that will hold lots of glorious colour.

Blanching destroys the enzymes that turn green veggies brown- this makes it perfect for preparing ingredients for recipes that rely on the bright green colour. I love using it for making EPIC dressings and herb oils to pretty up a dish and add lots of extra flavour. Its super simple to do-  It involves plunging the herbs into boiling water, then IMMEDIATELY removing and “shocking” them in ice water to stop the cooking. You need to work quickly so have everything ready to go- a pot of boiling water, a utensil for removing the herbs from the boiling water, and a big bowl of water and ice (1-2 trays, so its ice cold). Trust me, its worth the effort!

Method:

Throw basil into boiling water, then immediately scoop out and place into ice cold water to stop the cooking. Sit for a minute or so. Squeeze out the excess water and place basil in your high power bender with remaining ingredients- start with half the lemon juice and add more after tasting- it should need the juice of at least 1 lemon. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. If it’s too runny add more nuts. Balance the lemon, maple and salt to your tastes. Store left over dressing in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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