Modern Australian / Salads

Tuscan kale, pumpkin, quinoa and barberries salad


Tuscan kale, pumpkin, quinoa and barberries salad

The inspiration behind this recipe is a Lebanese dish called Marshoosheh. This is my modern twist on it. The traditional dish is made with a herb by the name of Ettayfeh, which is not usually found in Sydney, but I have seen something similar to it  in Asian vegetable stores. It is a basic peasant dish, where you fry onions in olive oil, sauté the herb and add burghul, (cracked wheat or bulgur in Turkish). Salt and pepper is added, then lemon juice is squeezed to taste. That’s basically it and I absolutely love its simplicity.

My modern version came about when I had purchased Tuscan Kale and a Golden Nugget pumpkin on a recent trip to Nelson’s Bay. The end result was quite delicious and the kids loved it, so it’s going up on the blog and I’ll be making it again. The extra ingredients that I use enhance the flavour of the kale and add an interesting texture to the dish.

It just happened that we were there on the first Saturday of the month, ” Market Day”. At the market I bought Tuscan Kale, corn, apples and the pumpkin from a couple who grew these vegetables on their land. I also saw some funny looking cucumbers, but decided not to get them. As we walked around, I saw them again. This time, a guy who was selling camping wood stoves, had a few which he grew in his own garden. He said they were quite delicious and I changed my mind and bought a few. They were short, fat and of a yellowish colour, juicy but the skin was hard. On the way back home, we stopped and picked up more veggies, I saw the cucumbers again, so I figured that they must be popular locally. 11069643_10152656954401680_4557625430539042350_n

Cucumbers, pumpkin, garden herbs and Roma tomatoes

Cucumbers, pumpkin, garden herbs and Roma tomatoes

What was truly inspirational on that day, is a lady called Faye. We started chatting and it turned out she had retired a few years back, but only tolerated retirement for three months ” I was so bored, so I decided to bake for the market”. She had owned a cake shop for ten years, and she had a large display of biscuits and cakes, all of it was home baked. It was incredible, she told me that it takes her two weeks to prepare it all.

I have never bought or cooked a Golden Nugget before. When I initially looked at it, I thought about taking its top off and putting a filling inside, then bake it whole. I gave up on that idea when I realised it was after 5 pm and had no time left to experiment with a whole pumpkin. I found the taste of this particular type of pumpkin to be a cross between a butter-nut pumpkin and a sweet potato.

As for the rest of my vegetables, the tomatoes ended up in a salad with just the cucumbers and fresh mint from my garden. They were so sweet and delicious, I could have served them on their own with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and virgin olive oil, sea salt and that’s it. The corn, I roasted on top of my gas stove. Eating such fresh, delicious vegetables makes city folks like me realise how much we are missing out on freshness and flavour.

Golden nugget pumpkin

Golden nugget pumpkin

Fresh produce purchased on the trip

Fresh produce purchased on the trip

Tuscan kale, pumpkin, quinoa and barberries salad
Note: for a vegan option omit Fetta or replace with your favourite vegan cheese

Prep time 20 min
cooking time 45 min
serves 4-6

1 bunch Tuscan kale
1 medium size pumpkin
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1cm ginger knob
75g sheep or goat Fetta
3 tablespoons pine-nuts
3 tablespoons green Iranian sultanas
2- 3 table-spoons olive oil

Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons barberries
4 tablespoons hot water
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt to taste
1/2 tea-spoon white pepper

Wash barberries in a bit of water, and soak in hot water, let it rest throughout the preparation and cooking time. Wash pumpkin and cut top off, then slice with skin on into thick wedges.Place pumpkin on baking tray, brush each slice with olive oil and bake under the grill until golden brown, then turn to brown the other side.

Pumpkin pieces ready to go under the grill

Pumpkin pieces ready to go under the grill

In the meantime wash the quinoa well, then place in pot with water and bring to the boil. Once it starts boiling, simmer and cook for about ten minutes. The quinoa should be just nicely cooked but not soggy. When ready, pour into a fine mesh strainer, let it drain well.

Wash kale, and slice thinly, discarding the end parts if tough. Peel and dice onion, and finely dice garlic and ginger. Place one tablespoon of olive oil in pan, add onion and fry until golden, add garlic and ginger, stir a bit then add the kale leaves. Stir fry for a few minutes until soft, then cover and let it cook until it’s tender. add salt and pepper to taste. turn heat off.

Lightly pan fry the pine-nuts with a tiny drizzle of olive oil until golden and set aside. Remove pumpkin from under the grill, remove the skin and dice. Remove barberries from bowl, and drain juice in another bowl, making sure to throw away the last bit of juice with any sediments.

Place the Tuscan leaves mixture in a bowl. Add pumpkin, lemon juice, barberry juice, olive oil and mix. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, crumble Fetta and top, and sprinkle the green sultanas, pine-nuts and barberries. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Fresh young corn, roasting on top of my gas stove

Fresh young corn, roasting on top of my gas stove


Tomatoes, brown onions, chillies and herbs at the shop on the way back home

13 thoughts on “Tuscan kale, pumpkin, quinoa and barberries salad

  1. By the looks of the photo (the third one down) the cucumbers are what we call in NZ “apple cucumbers”. They are commonly grown in home vege gardens and have a lovely mild flavour once you peel off that hard skin. I’m a big fan of them! Your dish looks and sounds lovely – we are heading towards autumn indeed.

    • Thanks Chez, I couldn’t recall the name he gave them, but I think U r absolutely right, apple cucumbers. He had two types and used two different names. Should have paid more attention, but was too excited buying all these fresh vegetables 🙂 lol

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