Warm salads are one of the joys of autumn and winter, and pumpkin – and squash – have a soft flesh that contrasts well with the crispiness of the chicory. It gives you sweet and bitter in the same dish.
The bread here is made for Spanish migas – they are soft inside and crispy on the outside – and add a lot of texture, so do not skip them.
A lot happens in this dish, so it works really well as a hearty entree salad, though I also love it with fried chicken.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Four as a main course salad
- 450 g pumpkin, seeded and peeled (cooked weight)
- 2 red onions, peeled and cut into crescent-shaped cubes
- 1 cauliflower, cut into bouquets
- 150 ml of olive oil
- Freshly ground nutmeg
- 100 g ciabatta, cut into pieces
- 100 ml of milk
- 2 chicory heads, leaves separated
- 145 g ricotta, cut into coarse chunks
- 45 g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, shaved
- 16 sage leaves
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 210 C / 190 C fan / gas mark 5. Cut the pumpkin into large pieces, approx. 2 cm square (they do not have to be exact). Put these in a frying pan with the onions. Turn the cauliflower in another frying pan. Drizzle with olive oil, season and flip all the vegetables with your hands. Grate a little nutmeg over the pumpkin and cauliflower. Fry for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and in some places slightly sweaty, by inverting them a few times.
- While the vegetables are frying, place the ciabatta pieces in a bowl and add the milk. Let stand for about 10 minutes, turning once so all the chunks can soak up some of the milk.
- To make the dressing, put the white balsamic vinegar plus salt and pepper in a small jug and add the extra virgin olive oil while whisking constantly.
- Squeeze the milk out of the pieces of bread – not too firm, you will not crush the bread completely – and heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Saute the pieces over medium-high heat until crisp and golden on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Put a few inches of olive oil in a saucepan. Heat until really hot, then add the sage leaves. When they look a little frizzy – it happens quickly – take them out with a slotted spoon and place them on a double layer of kitchen paper – it just sucks up the excess oil. Sprinkle them with salt (but not too much).
- Arrange all the vegetables and the bread in a wide, shallow serving dish. Drizzle 2/3 of the dressing over and season. Dot with ricotta, sprinkle with parmesan (or alternative) and sage leaves and add the rest of the dressing. Serve immediately.
Diana’s best tip
You can add hot chestnuts – just sauté them in a little olive oil – and roasted hazelnuts to this dish.