Seasonal Salad with Warm Pumpkin Wedges and Honey Vinaigrette
This is a gorgeous composed salad, which means that it’s assembled on a serving platter instead of tossed in a bowl. I let the size and shape of the pumpkin guide how I carve it, such as into wedges or rings.
I love to pair aged Gouda or Gruyere with pumpkin and other roasted orange vegetables, such as winter squash and sweet potatoes. These cheeses take on a lovely amber color and deeper flavor as they age, and (unlike Cheddar) melt well without separating. Look for them in the specialty cheese section of your grocery store. They keep for months, so you can buy a big wedge to use throughout pumpkin and fall cooking season. I usually grab my vegetable peeler to quickly shave off the amount I need for a recipe, or use the large holes of a box grater.
If you are craving pumpkin, but don’t have the time or ingredients to prepare the entire salad, just roast the pumpkin pieces to serve as a quick side dish, perhaps drizzled with a little maple syrup, sorghum, honey, or pomegranate molasses for a touch of sweetness.
Makes 4 servings.
Spice-Roasted Pumpkin Wedges
- 1 small cooking pumpkin (about 1 1/to 2 pounds)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile or smoked paprika, to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tablespoons honey, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 cup light, fruity olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seed oil (optional)
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 5 ounces leafy salad greens (a baby kale and arugula mix is great here)
- 1 small tart apple, cored and thinly sliced or julienned
- 1 small fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced (save a few fronds for garnish)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, either homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought
- 1 ounce aged Gouda or aged Gruyere shaved or grated from a large wedge
For the Pumpkin Wedges
Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the pumpkin into quarters and remove the seeds and wet fibers. (If planning to roast the seeds, do so before preparing the rest of the salad. The recipe follows.)
Cut the quarters into 1-inch thick wedges. Peel with a sturdy vegetable peeler. (Thicker skins might require more than one pass of the peeler.)
Place the wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle with vegetable oil and toss to coat. Stir together the sugar, pie spice, chipotle, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the pumpkin and toss to coat. Arrange the wedges in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until tender and gently sizzling, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette.
For the Honey Vinaigrette
Combine all of the ingredients in a jar. Close tightly and shake well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature until needed. Shake well before serving.
For the Salad
Spread the salad greens on a serving platter. Top with warm pumpkin wedges, apple slices, fennel slices, pomegranate arils, and pumpkin seeds. Shave a few ribbons of cheese over the top. Drizzle with the rest of the vinaigrette.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Place the seeds and gloppy stuff in a medium-size saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring gently to loosen the fibers. Drain, rinse under cold running water, and remove any clinging fibers.
Measure the clean seeds and return them to the pan. For every 1/2 cup of seeds, add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Bring to simmer over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes, or longer if you prefer them more salty. Drain and blot dry.
Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the seeds on a baking sheet, moisten with a little oil, and spread them into a single layer. Roast until the seeds are golden brown. This will take about 10 minutes for small seeds and up to 30 minutes for large seeds.
Let cool on the pan on a wire rack, stirring occasionally. Serve whole or by cracking the outer shell to remove the inner seed. These are best served warm while they are their most crisp, although they are still good at room temperature if enjoyed the same day. The outer shells tend to get too chewy over time.
Seasonal Salad with Warm Pumpkin Wedges | Kitchen Recipe
Sheri prepares a delicious entrée salad with warm pumpkin wedges and a honey vinaigrette.
Recipe Courtesy of Sheri Castle
Sheri Castle, award-winning food writer and cooking teacher, is known for melding culinary expertise, storytelling and humor, so she can tell a tale while making a memorable meal. Her creative, well-crafted recipes and practical advice inspire people to cook with confidence and enthusiasm. She's written a tall stack of cookbooks and her work appears in dozens of magazines. In 2019, the Southern Foodways Alliance named Sheri among Twenty Living Legends of Southern Food, calling her The Storyteller.
Sheri says that she's fueled by great ingredients and the endless pursuit of intriguing stories, usually about the role that food plays in our lives, families, communities and culture.
When she steps away from the kitchen or a local farm, Sheri enjoys spending quiet time at her home near Chapel Hill. She hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.