Spice roasted pumpkin with haloumi, pomegranate and herb sauce

While I had every intention of creating this dish as an autumnal recipe, Melbourne seems to have skipped a season and gone straight into winter. Luckily for me, spice roasted pumpkin transcends seasonal boundaries, and most other things, really.

This dish is inherently gluten free, vegetarian, and free of onion and garlic. These labels only matter if you or your guests need them to, of course, otherwise it’s just a delicious, warming meal, as visually appealing and abundant in halloumi as it is delicious.

Spice roasted pumpkin with halloumi, yoghurt, pomegranate and a herb and preserved lemon dressing from www.georgeats.com
Spice roasted pumpkin with halloumi, yoghurt, pomegranate and a herb and preserved lemon dressing

For the pumpkin:

Roughly 750g Kent pumpkin, skin on or off, according to your preference
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon of each: cinnamon, ground cumin, garam masala, sea salt and brown sugar
1 piece of preserved lemon, finely chopped (optional)
Dried chilli flakes, to your taste

For the preserved lemon and herb sauce (you will likely have some leftover):

1 large bunch of mint (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
1 large bunch of coriander (or a large handful of greens like rocket for a more economical option)
30g (around 2 small pieces) preserved lemon
Juice of 1 lemon or lime, rind reserved
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

To assemble:

1 packet of halloumi (in Australia, packets vary in size, but any amount will work)
1/4-1/2 a pomegranate, arils removed
4-5 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray. Chop the pumpkin to your liking – pieces slightly larger than bite size are ideal. Remove the skin if you intend to do so – I like to keep it on.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil with all the spices for the pumpkin, and add the preserved lemon, if you’re using it. Add the pumpkin to the bowl, and use your hands to make sure the pumpkin is evenly coated in oil and spices.
  3. Lay the pumpkin evenly on the baking tray, ensuring to leave space between the pieces. Failure to do so will result in soggy pumpkin.
  4. Place the pumpkin into the oven for at least half an hour – this may be slightly shorter or longer, depending on how thick your pieces are.
  5. Put all the ingredients for preserved lemon and herb oil into your food processor, and blitz until a smooth, green sauce forms. Decant from the blender and into a bowl, ready to drizzle.
  6. Once the half hour is up or the pumpkin is soft, turn the grill on, and leave it for a couple of minutes to develop a bit of crunch.
  7. While the pumpkin is under the grill, heat a nonstick saucepan to a high heat, and grease it with a tiny bit of oil. Slice your haloumi into whatever size you desire, and then place it onto the hot pan. It should sizzle upon contact. Cook the haloumi slices for a minute or so each side – enough to make them melty and develop a golden brown colour, but not enough to burn them. Immediately remove from the heat.
  8. To assemble, lay the warm pumpkin on the serving platter, followed by the haloumi. Dot the Greek yoghurt and preserved lemon herb sauce on top, and finish with the pomegranate arils, any herbs leftover for garnish, and a zesting of microplaned lemon rind. You could also add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or olive oil. Serve immediately.

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