Sorry for the salad spam. Well not really. It’s summer. In Australia. It gets hot. Hot = salad cravings. Big time. However this particular specimen, this Spinach, Pumpkin, Pine Nut, Cannellini Bean Salad with Caramelised Red Onions (whew, that’s a long name!) is suited to all seasons. It can wear the hat (or beanie) of comforting, warm salad just as easily as that of the cool, refreshing one. Think sweet, pungent caramelised onions, chunks of roasted butternut squash (hot or cold), creamy cannellini beans and crisp baby spinach leaves. Toasted pine nuts provide crunch and, well, nuttiness. Whe-hey. Whip this up and you’ve got yourself a fancy schmancy lunch or simple dinner. Pop it in a flatbread/wrap for a snazzy sarnie or serve alongside some quinoa for an extra protein boost. Versatility is our friend.
As previously mentioned, yet again the temperature has climbed here in Melbourne. After trudging a couple of kilometres home in thick, muggy heat a certain someone’s brain has kicked into survival mode. I.e. conserve energy with simple thinking. There’ll be no eloquent blog post today (though is there ever? Let’s not answer that). Simplicity is what this salad is about – you’ve a wee amount of roasting to do, and while that’s happening you can make you’re caramelised onions. Easy as pie…nuts, because yep you need to toast them too! But seriously. there’s nothing a heat-fried brain can’t handle (apart from making awful dad jokes. I am sorry.). Just be warned – don’t gas yourself when adding the balsamic vinegar to the onions. In other words don’t take a massive breath of air above the pan as you pour the vinegar in, otherwise you may find yourself gagging for a few moments. The stuff is brilliant, but the fumes are damn potent when added to heat! Euggghhh, heat. Let’s not think about that.
Spinach, Pumpkin, Pine Nut, Cannellini Bean Salad with Caramelised Red Onions.
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
450g butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 2cm pieces
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
80g baby spinach leaves
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
100g canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and scatter over the baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Set pan on a wire rack and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the caramelised onions. Set a small frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the remaining oil. When shimmering throw in the sliced onions and toss well. Cook for approximately 8 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the balsamic vinegar (it will hiss) and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Now add the brown sugar and cook, stirring regularly for a further minute. Reduce the heat to low and leave to cook gently for approximately 8 minutes, stirring every so often, or until the onions reach a jam-like consistency. Transfer to a small bowl.
To assemble the salad: Scatter two thirds of the spinach leaves on a plate/platter. Top with half of the pumpkin, caramelised onion and two thirds of the cannellini beans. Scatter with the remaining spinach, followed by the rest of the pumpkin, caramelised onion and cannellini beans. Finish with the toasted pine nuts.
Serve drizzled with a little olive oil or an apple-cider vinaigrette.
Source: A tastewithoutwaste original.