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.