I’m sure you’re like me and you buy something for a recipe and the recipe was “okay” but not something you want to add to your recipe roster. Several months ago I made a citrus and fregola sarda salad. I liked it but the husband thought it was less than spectacular. He eats anything I cook but I could tell he wasn’t enjoying it. You know when they push things around on their plate to make it look like they’re eating. Then miraculously before his plate was finished, he was full. Confirmation.
So, I had half a bag of fregola sarda that I’d vacuum sealed. Fregola sarda is Sardinian pasta where it’s hand rolled by rubbing semolina and a little bit of water a bit at a time and then toasted. I was stuck with finding something to make with it or toss it. I hate tossing food.
I found a recipe for caramelized butternut squash (pumpkin) with fregola sarda and chermoula on Food52 and that’s where I started. I thought it sounded good but It seemed hotter than I had in mind. Then I went to the pantry and found 5 little pickling onions and a head of garlic. I went to the fridge and found half a butternut squash (pumpkin), 1 1/2 sweet red peppers (capsicum) and that decided lunch.
First I roasted the peppers (capsicum) at 215C til they were blackish and placed them in a bowl and covered it with cling film for them to sweat their skins off so I could seed and chop them up. I peeled and chopped the butternut into 3/4 inch pieces and put them in a bowl and drizzled olive oil, a tablespoon of brown sugar, kosher salt and some pepper and mixed to coat. I placed the orange chunks of joy on some baking paper on a baking tray and popped it in the oven at 185C for about 40 minutes til it was golden brown on the edges but not burnt. Caramelized butternut squash (pumpkin) – doesn’t that just sound delicious? It was. Before I added it to the bowl I tasted a piece just to be sure. It took a 2nd piece before I was totally convinced. Heavenly.
I peeled the onions and placed them in a microwave safe dish with a pat of butter and some sea salt for about 5 minutes til the edges were just beginning to caramelize. Yum.
After I put the squash in the oven I took a head of garlic, sliced off the bottom (I know we’re supposed to slice off the top but I have better luck doing the bottom. The cloves come out all caramelized and perfect without getting squooshed. I took a big sheet of aluminum foil (normally I say tin foil so I don’t have to suffer with alyoomineeum because it just doesn’t roll off my tongue. it’s aluminum where I come from, no extra i. I lived in Alcoa, Tennessee when I was in college and they know aluminum there. lol) Now where was I.. oh yes. Fold the foil in two and put a squirt of olive oil and rub the cut side of the garlic in the oil and then roll it around. Sprinkle some kosher salt on top and fold the edges of the foil around the garlic, twist to seal and pop it in the oven at 200C for about 40 minutes. The cut edges should be golden brown and the cloves will be all soft and sweet.
While the garlic and butternut were roasting I put half a cup of fregola sarda in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes and then drained it and placed it a dish to cool, then put it in the fridge. Btw. when you take the fregola out of the fridge and put it in the mixing bowl, don’t use your hands. Those little buggers stick EVERYWHERE on your fingers and they don’t shake off. I had to flick them off with a sharp knife, rolling my eyes as I realized how silly I looked.
Once I washed my hands I went outside. This is a big thing because it’s been raining so much around here that nobody goes outside any more. For this salad I needed fresh herbs and we keep them outside so out I went. Yes, I got wet. Yes, I yelled at the dog for going in the pool – it’s green from all the rain. We’ve had 19 inches of rain in the past week and lots more rain expected this weekend. Yes, it’s been flooding. Yes, I’m still dry. The pool guy was here this morning and he backwashed the pool for 15 minutes. I did it for 20 minutes yesterday. It’s still raining.
Anyway, about the herbs. You could use anything you have handy. I chopped off a pot of chives, pinched some young basil leaves and harvested some flat leaf parsley and ran back into the house, yelling at the dog to get out of the pool but not come in because he was all wet. Thankfully he understands all of that. He sat at the back door and asked for a bone from the freezer. I speak dog so I knew what he wanted. Everyone was happy.
Yes, this is Charlie. He looks full of marrow bone doesn’t he? He sleeps under my chair most of the time so when I need to get up I have to trip over him. Oh, looking at the photo I know why my headphones don’t work. Probably need to charge them up with that cord on the floor next to the dog. Argh.
The cat’s on my old chair over there. It’s still in my office because it has never made it to the garage on its way to someone else’s house so the Lucy has taken it as her own. Unless she’s sitting my chair. My chair is black – it should have been cat hair brown. She’s a beautiful cat but she doesn’t like anyone except the dog and he hates her. I mean she’s a cat, right? NO self respecting dog likes a cat – that’s what he told me. (see above about speaking dog)
The butternut was beautifully roasted, the garlic made the whole house smell good and I was getting hungry. The cricket test match had just started so that must mean it’s lunch.
I chopped the herbs and put everything in the bowl and then (only then?) decided how I was going to dress it. I thought I’d just know when I looked at it and it seemed to be asking for extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice with a bit of seasoning. So that’s what I did.
THIS is when I thought it looked good enough to blog about and ran upstairs for the camera. Sorry about no prep photos but honestly, roasted veg and garlic isn’t exactly new. You did get the cat and the dog. heh.
I plated it up and then called his majesty the husband who does not cook by going to the stairs and yelling, “John!!! It’s lunch!” and then waited so see if he heard me. I don’t climb the stairs for a personal invitation — but he already knows that and he came right down.
Remember he was the one who didn’t like the previous fregola sarda dish I made so it was iffy but he loved this one. He likes most anything that has roasted garlic or roasted onions in it.
So if it’s time to clean your fridge or pantry – make a salad. You’ll save money and the food will be fantastic!
- ½ cup fregola sarda (or any pasta you have in the pantry)
- 1½ sweet red peppers (capsicum)
- 1 head of garlic
- ½ butternut squash (pumpkin)
- 5 pickling onions (baby onions) I would have used more but that's all I had
- ½ cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup small basil leaves thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of chives snipped
- zest of one lemon
- olive oil
- juice of half a lemon
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper (salt and pepper to taste)
- Roast the peppers at 210C until blackish and then place in a bowl covered with cling film to sweat the skins off. Set aside til cool.
- Peel and chop butternut squash (pumpkin) into ¾ inch pieces and place in a bowl.
- To the squash add enough olive oil to coat, kosher salt and pepper and one teaspoon of brown sugar.
- Mix and place on baking paper on a baking sheet and roast at 185C til golden brown on the edges but not burnt. About 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Once squash is in the oven, cut the bottom off a head of garlic. Fold over a sheet of tin foil and put some olive oil on it and then rub the cut side of the garlic in the oil and then roll to coat the entire head of garlic. Sprinkle kosher salt and then seal the edges and place in the oven with the pumpkin and roast for 40 minutes til soft and caramelized. Remove from oven and let cool. (otherwise you'll burn your fingers getting the cloves out - just sayin...)
- Once the garlic is in the oven, peel the small onions and place in a microwave bowl and add a pat of butter and a bit of sea salt. Cover and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes. If the edges are just beginning to caramelize, the onions are done. If not, cook another minute or so til they just start to caramelize. Remove and let cool.
- Take the peppers out of the bowl and place on a cutting board and peel off outer skin and discard. De-seed and roughly chop and place in a bowl with the fregola sarda.
- Add the squash and then squeeze out the garlic cloves and add the onions.
- Roughly chop, tear and snip the herbs and add to the salad.
- Carefully mix so you don't mess up the squash, onions or garlic.
- Add the zest of one lemon, a slug or two of olive oil (you don't want too much dressing on this salad) and the juice of half of that lemon.
- Add just a bit of salt and pepper and give it a final mix and plate it up.
- We ate off one plate with two forks - love means less dishwashing.
Purabi Naha says
This salad looks so tempting! Loved reading your post. Your pet is truly adorable!!
Oh how delicious! I am bookmarking this page right now!
This hodgepodge looks and sounds fantastic, Maureen! LOVE the caramelized pumpkin and roasted garlic. Mmm, delish. 🙂 I left you the link for the maple extract below your comment on my blog, but here it as as well. 🙂
Krista, you beauty!! I’m originally from Maine so I’m used to maple extract !
The salad looks delicious and I’m happy I have discovered fregola sarda!
At least you were able to use it! I had to throw out a bunch of stuff from my fridge when I moved. I felt bad but I knew I wasn’t going to eat any of it.
So you have a vacuum sealer too…The Hubby does all the sealing but I love the way it keeps the food! I love to through together salads for lunch…The Hubby usually needs a little more but he just adds a sandwich to his lol..
Smoky Wok says
Lovely and refreshing!
Sofie Dittmann @thegermanfoodie says
OMG, this looks GOOD. Hand-rolled? You mean, you hand-rolled that stuff? What a great way to clean out the fridge, too.
Sofie, oh no, it comes in the packet hand rolled by women who have lots more patience than I have!
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Maureen, I love the inspiration you gained from cleaning out your fridge! What a spectacular salad you have made from a few bits and pieces. Great pics too. Lovely to meet Marrow-Bone Charlie and the lovely Lucy!
Pictures of animals plus a really tasty recipe make me smile. I need to clean my fridge/pantry out today, so we’ll see what I come up with! Thank you for sharing such a delicious meal. I’m glad to have found your blog today…I hope you have a splendid weekend!
wow Maureen a very ingenious recipe, I love it when more vegetable meat in the same dish. I also love your cat, she looks just like my cat Eugenia. You have adorable pets :). Just one cat and a dog or there is more?
Looks like israeli cous cous! Fabulous on a salad. Charlie is a cutie for sure
Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake says
You have a dog and a cat? I’m so jealous! My parents wouldn’t even let me get one let alone 2! I will be moving out very soon so hopefully I can get a pet of my own soon.
The salad looks gorgeous. So fresh and inviting 😀 It’s perfect for our over 30degree heat here in Melbourne!
Sarah Caron says
Well, I would be happy to dive into a plate of that! Looks great. I haven’t heard of fregola sarda (not sure it’s available here) but I looked it up and it’s similar to Israeli couscous, so I’ll have to give it a go with that. Mmm.
Tori @ eatori says
My husband does exactly the same thing when he’s not that impressed. This, however looks gorgeous.
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
Charlie looks too cute!!
And this salad?!! My oh my, it’s too beautiful to face-plant 😀
Sawsan@chef in disguise says
I love how you came up with the recipe.
I too know what my husband thinks of the recipe by his reaction after the first bite.
sydney Jones says
This sounds so delicious! I love cleaning out the fridge meals 🙂
This salad looks bright and fresh, I love it. So I guess those little balls are fregola sarda. hehe. It’s new to me I’ve never used them. Makes me wonder if hubby would even bother to push them around on the plate. Geez! I am going to have to look for those.
This looks so lovely! And aw, gorgeous pets! Can’t wait to live somewhere where I can get a puppy 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I love the satisfying feeling of cleaning a fridge pr pantry out and if you get a great recipe out of it, all the better! I’m sure that’s how some of the best dishes were invented! 😛
claudia lamascolo says
Now this is a great idea! love all the ingredients and as my mom used to call this one Must Go’s!
If this amazing salad is a ‘clean the fridge’ dish, I’m moving in with you, soon! Get a room ready, one that allows ‘expansion’ and has a strurdy bed 😉
Oh – the pasta is just like Israeli couscous, yum! ^^ I love cleaning the fridge – I normally end up making nutmilks, quiches, scones and salads when I clean the fridge at the end of the week.
Frugal in WV says
I love reusing leftovers for a new meal, the pics look yummy! Your animals are adorable 🙂
Love fregola sarda, but it’s almost impossible to find here where I live. Your salad is perfect!
and your pups absolutely adorable!
Seriously, I wish my clean out the fridge dishes looked this good! What a beautiful flavor combination, I adore anything with squash. Your puppy and kitty are simply precious, and just look so happy! Hugs, Terra
Dear Maureen, Great looking salad. Glad you posted about it. It is gourmet! I like the lemon and olive salad dressing too.
I love Charlie and Lucy. Blessings, Catherine xo
Roasted pepper and caramelized butternut squash??.. Now, that sounds incredible!
Ohhhhh, my husband does that ALL the time! Drives me nuts. This looks delicious. I never have anything good enough in my fridge to clean out and make something wonderful like this.