My friends and family constantly request my recipes. So much so I began writing a little cookbook, and later, started this blog. Last week I was asked by someone very dear to me, for the recipes of the 3 meals I make most often – my Sausage and Butter Bean Cassoulet, Zucchini Pasta, plus my Pumpkin + Lentil Salad. I have been making these 3 dishes regularly since I first took an interest in cooking. They are all incredibly simple, which is probably the reason I keep going back to them! So simple in fact, I hadn’t ever considered including them on this blog. I just presumed everyone automatically knew how to make them.
I realise now that people have rather different approaches to cooking. Some just make it up as they go. Some draw their inspiration from books, blogs and restaurants (this is me by the way), whilst others like to follow a recipe to the letter. This one is for you, for the people who need a recipe to follow. For those who go to the shops with a shopping list, and a plan.
Today I stirred through some small pasta shapes. Other days I bulk it out with couscous. And often I leave out the carbs entirely.
My best piece of advice is to take advantage of the delicious oil that was used to caramelise the onion. Stir your pasta or couscous (or even farro yum!) through the oily oniony pan. It tastes like heaven.
However, if you don’t have the time or patience to caramelise some onions, you can take a short cut by making quick pickled red onion – just add your thinly sliced onion to 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, and a big pinch each of salt and sugar. Leave sit for half an hour. This is also delicious, but the caramelised onion is beyond delicious.
Pumpkin + Lentil Salad with Caramelised Onions
Vegans can substitute olives for the feta. Simply omit the pasta for a gluten free option.
Serves 2 – 4
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced into thinnish half-moons
- 1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into a 2cm dice
- 1 tin on lentils, rinsed and drained
- 50g feta
- 2 handfuls of roquette leaves (or baby spinach)
- 2 cups small pasta shapes (cooked) or 1 cup cooked couscous (optional)
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Start off preparing the onions, you can even do this the night before. Add them to a pan with about 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 big pinches of salt. Place them on a very low heat – I mean as low as you can possibly get without the gas going out. Give them a stir and let them go for an hour of so. Keep your eye on them, you don’t want them crispy. When they are dark golden brown, remove from the heat and place in a little bowl.
- While the onions are on and you are pottering away, move on to preparing the other bit and pieces. Peel and cut the pumpkin, toss through a Tbsp olive oil and place on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle on a big pinch of salt and place in the oven to roast. All ovens are different, all pumpkins are different. Check them every 10 mins. When the pumpkin is cooked through, remove from oven and set aside.
- If you are going to add pasta or couscous, now is the time to start cooking them, according to package instructions.
- Drain and rinse the lentils, and crumble the feta, and set aside.
- Once everything is cooked and ready, it is time to assemble. Stir the pasta or couscous through the empty onion pan to soak up some of the flavour. Add the cooked pumpkin, drained lentils, and feta, and gently toss. I use my hands for this job. Add your green leaves and toss gently once again. Place into serving bowls and dollop over caramelised onions and their yummy juices.
- Taste, then add extra salt if required and a good grinding of pepper.