I think I have discovered the secret to salad beauty: Char marks.
As summer winds down in Australia, I vote for farewelling it with this salad. For those of you in the northern hemisphere? You may want to welcome spring in with this dish, just as soon as nectarines reach your stores.
Grilling provides more benefits here than just appearance. It also cooks the pumpkin in such a way that the middle is tender and the outside slightly crisp. It softens the nectarine pieces just enough to release their juices and bring out all the sweetness of their flavour. In other words, it is a winning cooking method.
Complementing the pumpkin and nectarine, this salad features a scattering of grilled carrot pieces, and walnuts for protein and texture contrast. It is a dish where you want to get a bit of everything in your mouth at once...and then take another mouthful without delay.
I made this using a Scanpan grill plate that is placed on top of the stove top. I love it because you don't need to turn on the oven and can monitor cooking progress easily. As mine isn't very large, though, I did need to cook my pumpkin in a few batches. If you have a barbecue grill then I imagine that would work very well, but an oven grill should also suffice if needed.
Grilled nectarine and pumpkin salad
This dish showcases simple ingredients beautifully, and tastes like summer at its best.
Serves approximately 3 as a light main, or approximately 6 as a side dish.
Vegan and gluten free.
Vegan and gluten free.
Requires a grill plate, barbecue grill or oven grill.
Author: Bite-sized thoughts.
1 large butternut pumpkin (or any pumpkin), peeled, cored and sliced into thin pieces (if the pieces are too thick it will take longer to grill)
1 medium carrot, sliced into thin pieces
4 medium nectarines, cut into eighths
1 bunch curly lettuce of choice, or equivalent spinach leaves
1/3 - 1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 - 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Approximately 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
Oil spray, for cooking
Heat a grill pan, barbecue grill or oven grill to medium-high heat. Spray lightly with oil.
Place the pumpkin and carrot pieces (or first batch of pieces, depending on grill size) on the grill and drizzle over apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt. If you are cooking half of the pumpkin/carrot pieces, use 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and approximately 1/8 tsp salt; if you are cooking more or less of the batch at once, adjust vinegar and salt accordingly.
Cook the pumpkin and carrot pieces for approximately 5 minutes on each side. They will be cooked when visibly char grilled and when a fork can pierce each piece easily. Set cooked pieces aside on a plate and repeat the grilling process with the remaining pumpkin / carrot until all pieces are grilled.
While the pumpkin and carrot are cooking, wash and shred your lettuce and set aside in a large salad bowl.
After cooking the pumpkin and carrot, grill the nectarine slices for approximately 2 minutes, until just soft (grill marks will only be visible if the inside of the fruit is placed face down). The pieces should retain their shape.
Add the grilled pumpkin, carrot and nectarine pieces to the lettuce, along with the walnuts. Stir through to combine and serve.
This will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days, but is best served on the day of making.
I didn't think this needed any additional dressing, but if you do, a simple balsamic vinegar mix should do the trick.
Submitted to Ricki's Wellness Weekend and Healthy Vegan Friday.
Are you a fan of grilling? What about fruit in salads?