Chickpeas can be a little underwhelming in their raw state, but when seasoned, spiced with baharat and roasted until crunchy, the humble legume transforms into something entirely more-ish. You can serve this salad warm or roast the pumpkin and chickpeas ahead of time for a quick throw-together dinner or ready-made work lunch. If you’re cooking for carnivores, simply add grilled chicken or lamb.
- 500 g pumpkin, peeled, cut into 3 cm-thick pieces
- 400 g tin chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry with paper towel
- 3 tsp baharat (see Note)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- ¾ tsp pomegranate molasses
- 4 cups picked watercress leaves or rocket
- 2 tomatoes
- ½ small red onion, finely sliced
- 80 g Persian feta (see Note)
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, chickpeas, baharat and 3 teaspoons of olive oil. Season to taste and toss to combine. Spread the pumpkin and chickpeas in a single layer on an oven tray lined with baking paper (reserve the bowl). Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the pumpkin is golden and tender and the chickpeas are crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes to cool a little.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining olive oil, red wine vinegar and pomegranate molasses and season to taste.
Place the watercress, tomato, onion and half the chickpeas in the reserved bowl. Add the dressing and toss gently to coat. Divide the salad between plates, top with pumpkin and the remaining chickpeas. Scatter over the feta and pomegranate seeds (if using) and serve immediately.
• Baharat, also know as Lebanese seven spice, is available from Middle Eastern food stores, quality spice merchants and some continental delis.
• You can buy Persian feta, which is a creamier version, at select grocers. If you can't find it, substitute with regular brined feta.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by Alice Storey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Alice Storey and Georgina Larby.
Palms wallpaper from Signature Prints. Antique painted stool (white) and peacock stool (black), both from Citta Design.