This waiting game has annoyed me to the extreme.
It has been almost 10 months since I last had the chance to taste a delicious piece of pumpkin.
I have seen some butternut squashes around all year long but pumpkin disappeared as soon as their local season is over. It is probably one of the few vegetables that you can't possibly find all year long. Reason: too heavy to carry across the globe- too voluminous to justify a 13 hours journey between Nairobi and Heathrow. Last year for example, Ruth Rogers from River Cafe went all the way to Italy to find the best pumpkin available and brought it back, sitting next to her in a plane. Obviously she bought a full price ticket for him (the pumpkin)
It is a cause for celebration as far I am concerned that no one gets a pumpkin urges during spring season. So last week, I got a wonderful surprise when I bought a lunch box from Princi in Soho's Wardour street. They serve the most delicious, simple, perfectly seasoned pumpkin salad.
Some chunky cubes of expertly cooked brightly orange (turning brown) pieces of pumpkin which had been tossed in a delicious caraway seed dressing and topped with some smaller cubes of lightly salted feta cheese. The contrast between the slight hardness of the cheese against the soft fibrous texture of the pumpkin was spot on. They seemed to had put quite a lot of olive oil in their dressing and that was the signed of someone who had tasted the salad before hand and thought: the pumpkin tend to absorb olive oil far too quickly; let's add more olive oil. And it worked. When the season of any vegetables starts so well, it is usually a sign that what follows is going to be fantastic; fingers crossed!
So this is how I would duplicate Princi's delicious Pumpkin salad (for 4 as starter)
For the pumpkin
300gr Pumpkin Peeled & Cut into 2x2cm chunky bits
1 Table Spoon of honey
1 teaspoon of Maldon salt (or any good quality rock salt)
4 tablespoon of olive oil
A bit of black pepper on top of the pumpkin once cooked.
Preheat the oven at 190 degrees.
Roughly place the cubes of pumpkin on a oiled tray and add the honey, olive oil and salt. Toss them slightly and cook for 17 minutes. You may have to turn them once and also may have to leave the oven door open for the last 2 minutes in order to let the excess humidity escape from the oven. Remove the tray from the oven and let everything cool down until at room temperature ( around 20 minutes)
For the Dressing
1 garlic clove (smashed and finely chopped)
1/2 lemon juiced
10cl Extra Virgin Olive oil
3 teaspoon of caraway seeds (lightly burnt if possible)
In a bowl, stir the chopped garlic with the lemon juice and olive oil.
Add a a pinch of salt and some black pepper.
Add the caraway seed and taste.
3 Table spoon of chopped parsley
2 Tablespoon of olive oil
200gr Feta Cheese (a bit firm but not crumbling)
Take a large serving bowl and gently put the pumpkin cubes, add the dressing over and start to gently spoon everything together. Break the feta with your fingers over the bowl making sure to evenly dispatch the small pieces.
Pour the remaining olive oil and add a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the chop parsley and serve.