Cumin lentils and honey pumpkin salad

At the last moment last night, we decided to braai.  There wasn’t a lot in the fridge or cupboard to make up a side dish (it being almost the end of the month).  That, for me, is the perfect challenge and a great opportunity to be creative. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a lot of frozen Hubbard squash in my freezer (one Hubbard and two people means at least 4X 500 grams frozen portions of squash that takes a while to work through).  Some lentils, and beautiful baby Swiss chard from my garden plus a basil vinaigrette as well as the squash does make the salad!

A perfect companion to grilled mustard pepper steak, or as a meal on its own. This salad really stole the show and can easily serve four.

3/4 cup brown lentils, cooked

1 tablespoon roughly grounded cumin

1 tablespoon roughly ground coriander

2 tablespoons olive oil

350-400 grams cubed cooked squash

2 tablespoons heated, runny honey

8-10 leafs baby spinach/ Swiss chard

Parmesan slivers and chives for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the cooked, cubed squash in a greased baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and honey.  Flavour with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove for the oven, and allow to cool.

In the meantime, heat a dash of oil over moderate heat.  Add the cumin and coriander and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and fry for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from the stove, and allow to cool.

Basil vinaigrette:

50 ml olive

50 ml balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

5 ml white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil

Mix all the ingredients together, and whisk well.

Assembly of the salad:

Rinse the baby spinach/chard and place in a salad bowl. Add the cooled pumpkin and lentils and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss lightly and serve immediately.

Buttered pumpkin gnocchi

This is the first recipe that I will share with you.  My hunt for an alternative to potato gnocchi came about when my boyfriend insisted that we need to cut back on the carbs.  Pumpkin gnocchi is a low-carb option and can be served with about any topping of your choice!  I found some ricotta-pumpkin gnocchi recipes but being on a budget and cutting down on the carbs (which mean less flour) meant some serious reconstruction of the recipe.  Also, I have masses of frozen, cooked Hubbard squash in my freezer…

For 2 large portions:

To make the gnocchi you need:

500 gr cooked squash (e.g. Hubbard, butternut)
1/2- 3/4 cup cake flour
salt to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg, separated

Ideally, once the squash has cooked and been drained, return the squash to the warm pot for 5-10 minutes to get rid of any remaining water. Whilst the squash is cooling, separate the egg, and whisk the white until soft peaks form. Keep separate for time being.  Once the squash has cooled, puree it with a blender, add the egg, salt and cumin and mix well. Now slowly add the flour whilst mixing. The consistency will never be stiff, but add enough flour to bring everything together.  Now gently mix in your egg white. Your gnocchi mix should have the consistency of a mousse.

Bring water to boil, and add small teaspoons full of gnocchi mix to boiling water. The gnocchi should float when it’s done.  Scoop the gnocchi out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside until ready to proceed.

Butter sauce:

I used the herbs available in my garden at the moment, but the most popular choice for pumpkin gnocchi seems to be a sage and butter sauce.  I really do belive you can serve this gnocchi with any sauce of your choice.

2-3 tablespoons butter
1-2 chillies (optional)
fresh parsley to taste
chives or sping onion to taste

Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat and gently add you gnocchi to the pan. Do not stir as it will make the gnocchi sticky and break it up. Now add all the herbs of your choice the pan and fry for 10-15 minutes.  Prevent the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom of the pan by gently shaking and flipping the pan as you would do with a pancake.  Once done, and browned to taste dish, and garnish with fresh herbs, parmesan or any topping of your choice!