Warm Winter Salad – Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa

Warm Winter Salad - Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa, Blistered Green Beans, Fetta & Basii.

Warm Winter Salad with Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa, Blistered Green Beans, Hazelnuts, Fetta & Basil.

A beautiful warming dish for winter – this is healthy comfort food, one of those meals where you can feel it doing you good.

I can’t tell you how good this is. Every mouthful.  All the flavours work so well together and I love the combination poached, roasted, sautéed ingredients and the different textures. Everything is served warm/hot except the cold creamy fetta, the crunchy nuts which were roasted earlier and the fresh basil on top.

This was made up on the spot and I was surprised how good it was.  I had considered some elaborate dressing, but all it wants is olive oil, salt and pepper. I’m not usually that much of a fan of quinoa to be honest, (I kind of roll my eyes at all the quinoa in cafes these days) but I just felt like I wanted to use it and it really is perfect for this.

Warm Winter Salad – Poached Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin, Quinoa, Blistered Green Beans, Hazelnuts, Fetta & Basil

Ingredients

For the poached chicken

  • 4-5 free range chicken breasts (or one per person)
  • a few black peppercorns
  • a couple of good pinches of salt
  • 3-4 smashed garlic cloves (skins and everything)
  • a couple of broken celery stalks
  • (if I’d had bayleaves, I would’ve used them too)

For the rest:

  • 1/2 small butternut pumpkin chopped into small chunks (or just cook more and have extra roasted pumpkin)
  • a couple of handfuls of green beans
  • 2 cups of quinoa
  • 3 cups of poaching liquid, or stock, or water (just use the poaching liquid)
  • a couple of handfuls of roasted hazelnuts and almonds
  • danish creamy fetta
  • some fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Method:

For the poached chicken:

  1. Lay the chicken breasts in one layer across the bottom of a wide pan, toss in some black peppercorns, a couple of good pinches of salt.
  2. Pour in enough water to cover the chicken, add celery, and onion. (and any other aromatics)
  3. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and leave in the pan for 20 minutes. (it’s fine if it stays longer – like if you need to pop out and collect your kids from school, or whatever you do).

For the rest:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Spread the pumpkin evenly across an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt
  3. Bake the pumpkin for 20-30 mins until cooked and slightly browned. Set aside.
  4. Pour 2 cups of quinoa & 3 cups of poaching liquid into a saucepan
  5. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 mins.
  6. Turn off the heat and leave covered for 10 mins.
  7. In a wide pan with heat on high, add a splash of olive oil and swirl, add the green beans, put the lid on and let them sizzle for a few minutes.
  8. Toss the beans around a bit, then add a couple of spoons of that poaching liquid. (it will splatter)
  9. Stick the lid back on quick. Leave for a minute or two more, until cooked and a little blistered.

To assemble. (this should all be served hot)

  1. Take a chicken breast and cut into some nice thick slices.
  2. Spoon some quinoa into a wide bowl, scatter the pumpkin and beans, some crumbled fetta, some hazelnuts and some almonds, lay the sliced chicken breast over the top, then top with the basil and drizzle generously with some good olive oil, salt and cracked pepper.

Spaghetti with Prawns, Feta, Baby Spinach, Anchovies, Chilli & Lemon.

Dad gave me a bag of cooked prawns left over from lunch yesterday. I peel the whole bag, rinse them and wrap them in paper towel.

Sometimes I don’t want to peel prawns – at lunch yesterday for example – when there’s a child who wants me to peg a cape on them, or a baby who needs a dummy replacement or a pat. My hands can’t do it. So I sat there, like a scruffy princess and Alvy peeled them for me. It’s ok because I reciprocated by grabbing some cold soba noodles and dressing them with sesame oil, tamari, lemon, salt, pepper, picking the avocado out of the salad and adding to the noodle pile with the prawns and giving that to him. Or maybe I ate it. Can’t remember.

But tonight with children sleeping I’m happy to peel with whole bag next to the sink.

Rummaging around to see what to make. There’s no fresh bread for a prawn sandwich. I’ve got a carrot, a leek, some spring onions, a bag of baby spinach. Maybe some fetta, and a couple of little tomatoes and a small bowl of toasted pinenuts. There’s probably some pasta and rice. Pasta wins.

It’s the make-it-up-as-you-go-along pasta. My absolute favourite.

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti or whatever pasta you have
  • Thinly sliced garlic (a few cloves)
  • Chopped spring onion (a few stalks)
  • Small jar of anchovies
  • Spoonful of Sambal Olek or chilli paste
  • Juice & rind of a small very juicy lemon
  • Handful of toasted pinenuts
  • Few handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • Handful of crumbled soft feta cheese
  • Olive oil

 

Method:

  1. Put your pasta into a big boiling salty pot. Drain when just cooked and splash with olive oil until everything else is ready.
  2. Put the garlic and white bits from the spring onion in a pan of olive oil and set the heat to medium. When they get all brown and crispy, fish them out and drain in a dish with a paper towel.
  3. Next, the anchovies go into the oil and get squished with the wooden spoon. (I’m stoked to use the little sharp pointy fork with the bone handle I got from Rozelle markets years ago. That’s its job – getting stuff from small long jars that a teaspoon won’t fit into. Like capers and anchovies. It’s also good at separating and rolling smoked salmon slices.)
  4. Add spoonful of sambal chilli paste and a stir. Add the lemon rind and juice. This should be a beautiful bubbling paste by now.
  5. Now the pasta gets added to the pan and tossed about in the hot anchovy mixture. It drinks up all the salty spicy stuff. All coated and lovely. (You could just eat this as is it. With Parmesan maybe.)
  6. Chuck in the prawns to warm through. Stir in baby spinach, crumbled feta, tomatoes, garlic and spring onion crunchies & toasted pine nuts.

It shouldn’t need salt, but it will love some black pepper. Tangy, spicy, salty, fishy, moody, sweet, fresh and wonderful.