You CAN make friends with salad – so long as they’re good

If you live in Melbourne, you may well have spent last Saturday glued to the TV screen watching the AFL Grand Final. My housemate, Miss R, and I were invited to watch the big event at a BBQ hosted by some friends of ours. I decided to do my bit and bring some salads as I was fairly sure the boys hosting wouldn’t be making anything not derived from an animal.

Since I was cooking for carnivores, I thought a nice potato salad would go down well. I had a batch of leftover aioli sitting in the fridge, so mixed it through some boiled kipfler potatoes with a bunch of herbs and a good amount of bacon to keep those carnivores happy.

Deciding I needed to make a second option, I thought something made with caramelised onions, a classic BBQ staple, would also be good. Since we already had some pumpkin in the fridge, I thought the two mixed with some feta and rocket would work well.

I was a little nervous carrying my two salads into the BBQ, but to my delight they were a big hit! Who says you can’t make friends with salad?

PUMPKIN, CARAMELISED ONION & FETA SALAD

1 butternut pumpkin (about 2kg)
4 brown onions
2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
250g rocket and spinach mixed leaves
2 blocks (400g) danish feta

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
olive oil

salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Peel pumpkin and scrape out seeds. Cut into small cubes about 1cm wide. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a moderate oven for 30 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, peel onions and slice thinly. Heat butter in a saute pan and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally until deep brown but not black. Add brown sugar and vinegar and continue to cook until they are very tender and dark. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. Once pumpkin and onion are cool, toss in a large bowl with rocket and spinach leaves. Crumble in 3/4 of feta and 3/4 of the pumpkin seeds and drizzle in a few tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and crumble over remaining feta and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 10


HERBY POTATO SALAD

3kg kipfler potatoes, whole, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp dijon mustard
500g bacon, cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chives, chopped
1 1/2 cups aioli (or mayonnaise)
salt & pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add potatoes and cook until just tender, about 15-20 minutes. Test potatoes with a knife – it should slice through easily.┬áDrain potatoes and run under cold water for a minute to stop cooking. Drain.
  2. While still slightly warm, cut potatoes into slices. Combine olive oil, vinegar and mustard and pour over potatoes. Season liberally with salt and pepper and toss well to coat the potatoes in the dressing. Leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, fry bacon until crispy. Allow to cool.
  4. When potatoes and bacon are cool, toss together with herbs and aioli. Check seasoning and transfer to a serving bowl.

Serves 10

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