Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pumpkin, Chicken and Chickpea Salad

I found this post in my "drafts" section.. it had been sitting there for a good six months and I had simply forgotten to publish it! Hope you enjoy the belated recipe :-) 


My family goes through phases of eating the same sorts of meals for a couple of weeks at a time, reverting back to an old favourite and then trying another new lot of similar foods for another couple of weeks, and so on and so on. 

Last night we reverted back to an old favourite which was initially part of a 'new batch' of recipes. And yes, when Mum first started making this, we would eat it at least three times a week. You could even say it was addictive...

The other day Dad brought home a pumpkin from the garden and although we didn't want to hurt his feelings, both Mum and I were hesistant to cook with it initially because unfortunately, none of the pumpkins that have come out of that place have been outstanding. Apparently it's because "the soil is too good for pumpkin", but what would I know. Which reminds me - one day I should write about the way in which the garden beds at that place have been put together; it's phenomenal!

To be fair, this particular pumpkin wasn't too bad, particularly since the tahini in the recipe seems to bring out the sweetness of the squash, rather than dampen it like some sweeter sauces do. Also, instead of using canned chickpeas like we always used to, I soaked and cooked some dried chickpeas which provided a nice semi-crunchy texture instead of the mush that often comes out of cans. 

You could say that this was the best version of this salad we have had to date, so much so that it didn't hang around long enough to have its photograph taken. Mum added her own little twist by adding in some silverbeet and mizuna into it but below is the photo from ABC's Delicious magazine, the source of the recipe, without the pretty green bits. 

Photo from Delicious Magazine (minus the chicken)

Pumpkin, Chicken & Chickpea Salad (adapted from ABC's Delicious magazine) 
Serves 4

1kg pumpkin or squash (800g prepared weight), peeled, de-seeded and cut into 3-5cm slices, about 0.5cm thick
2 Tbsp olive oil
300g roast chicken 
400g cooked chickpeas, drained
½ small red onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsp roughly chopped silverbeet and mizuna (or just some fresh coriander)
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt
3½ Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp tahini paste
2 Tbsp water, to taste
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and fry the pumpkin until soft and slightly brown on both sides (alternatively, roast in a preheated 220°C oven for about 20 minutes - this might be easier as it allows you to make the sauce while you're waiting. However frying turns out to be more efficient if oven space is lacking). Remove and allow to cool. 

2. Make the tahini sauce: mix the crushed garlic with lemon juice and add the tahini. Thin this mixture with the water and olive oil, adding more lemon/tahini to taste. There should be a balance between the nutty tahini and lemon.

3. Assemble the salad: salad, place the pumpkin, chicken, chickpeas, red onion and greens in a mixing bowl. Pour on the tahini sauce and remaining oil and toss carefully. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

- Matilda

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Winter has come.

Winter is coming.

For over a year, the context of those famous words of House Stark of Winterfell eluded me. Yet now, after reading only the first two books of A Song of Ice and Fire, I am engrossed in the world of Westeros and Essos, and the fight for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. I detest being in massive fandoms by principle (especially when it comes to joining them when popularity is already sky-high) but I like to think as long as I stick to the more intellectually stimulating novels rather than the televised series, I can remain separate from the masses. 

Image from web

Yes, I know. I'm a snob. My apologies. 

However, this post isn't about the consanguinity of House Lannister and the rest of them. With winter having already arrived in our little pocket of South-East Queensland, I am yet again struck by the lack of seasons we experience here. I am not complaining - far from it! This numbing cold is more than my poor bare feet can handle - socks and slippers around the house somehow annoy me and I insist on not wearing them very often - and I prefer the mild winters of the Gold Coast to the biting chills experienced elsewhere. But there is no denying that winter would be more enjoyable if it looked like the season had changed. 

Our summers simply melt into autumns which, by the time we know it, have already morphed into winters.  Not having traveled extensively, I can't say this holds true for the whole of Australia, but I know for certain that the distinction between seasons is far more pronounced in places like Japan - lush green foliage in the summer during the rains, maple leaves in autumn, snow in winter, and cherry blossoms in spring. 

Photo from web 

As many of you who know me are already aware, I am not a huge fan of the winter. The cold that we get here goes down to the bones, even if it a "mild" 15 degrees C. It's too cold for shorts and t-shirts, yet too warm for a trench coat  and all the other fancy winter fashion that is showcased in colder parts of the country. In short, it's just annoying. Too cold for the beach, yet too warm for houses to have fireplaces built into them. Too cold for getting out of bed early, yet too warm for it to be an excuse for not doing exercise in the early hours. The only consolation is that finally the set temperature for the air conditioning at uni is warmer than the air outside.

- Matilda