The clocks have gone forward and winter is opening up before us like an abyss. At least, that’s what it feels like at the moment, with wind whistling around the house like a malevolent spirit and rain lashing the windows. I know there are lots of good things about the cooler months (red wine, slow-cooked lamb, soup, woolly hats) but I’m not ready to embrace them just yet.
Autumn Sunset Salad
The Saturday market is full of beetroot and pumpkin that I stash in the bottom of the pram beneath pungent bouquets of coriander and mint (since our plants legged it long ago) – and this is what I’ve been doing with them. This owes a lot to a Julie Le Clerc recipe – the dressing is pretty much hers – but I’ve ditched the chickpeas and added beetroot. Scatter some crumbled feta or toasted nuts over the top for a protein hit. This makes enough for four hungry people as generous side dish or lunch.
1/2 a pumpkin, seeded and cut into small chunks (don’t worry about peeling it, the skin is delicious roasted)
1 large beetroot, cut into small chunks
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a large roasting dish with foil, then tip the pumpkin and beetroot into it. Drizzle with oil and toss well with your hands. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until tender (the beetroot may take a little longer). Set aside and let cool.
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (I buy the dried sort in packets, as if they were dried apricots – if you use the ones packed in oil, reduce the oil below accordingly)
3Tbsp red wine vinegar
2Tbsp hot water
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
Put the sun-dried tomatoes, water and vinegar into a small bowl and let sit for 20-30 minutes (to soften the tomatoes), then tip into a food processor. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and whiz until it forms a chunky puree. Taste for seasoning, add a little water if it seems very thick. Toss this through the cooled, roasted vegetables. Sprinkle with a handful of coarsely chopped coriander and mint and serve.