Tender Leaf Salad with Pumpkin, Bacon & Brussels Sprouts

For the first time in a long while I strolled over the Friday market last week with absolutely no idea what I wanted to cook at the weekend. It was only when I saw the tender lamb’s lettuce and purslane leaves that I remembered a salad I’d made a few years ago using those leaves together with roasted pumpkin and little balls of goats cheese. I still had half a Hokkaido pumpkin at home, and the rest would be improvised, as usual.

When I was about to leave the market, I passed a stall selling very small Brussels sprouts, so I bought some of those, too. I wanted to finely slice them, bake them with oil and sugar and sprinkle them over the salad. I know Brussels sprouts are one of those love it or hate it vegetables, but roasted with oil and sugar they really do enrich this salad.

As I was invited for dinner both on Saturday and Sunday, I hadn’t done any food shopping and didn’t feel like driving to the shops just for goats cheese, so I skipped that bit and added some bacon still lurking in the fridge.

For a dressing I decided to make the same as I did when I made this salad for the first time, a very simple one consisting of white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shredded chili, and lime zest. The lime I thought I had turned out to be a lemon, but that was equally good.

Naturally, this can be made without the shredded chili, but I like a bit of heat in my food, and the chili goes well with the relatively mild white balsamic and the lemon or lime zest.

I only had half a pack of bacon left in the fridge, and when I make this again, I will definitely use one whole rasher per pumpkin slice – the bacon wrapped around the pumpkin was a real added bonus.

I don’t know why I waited so long to make this salad again, but this autumn it will definitely appear more often on my lunch table, especially this new variation with the bacon and the Brussels sprouts.

The platter full of salad you see in the pictures will feed two as a starter, but as it was my lunch, I ate it all by myself 🙂 .

Tender Leaf Salad with Pumpkin, Bacon & Brussels Sprouts

  • Servings: 2 as a starter / 1 as a main
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Salad
large handful of lamb’s lettuce
large handful of purslane
8 – 10 slices of pumpkin [I used Hokkaido]
15 very small Brussels sprouts
8 – 10 bacon rashers
olive oil
2 tsp raw cane sugar

Dressing
white balsamic
zest of 1 lemon or lime
olive oil
shredded dried chili, optional

Wash and carefully dry the salad leaves, then arrange on a large platter or in a large flat dish [you want this salad laid out flat rather than piled high].

Slice pumpkin, remove skin and seeds, then oil each slice well; wrap a bacon slice around each pumpkin slice and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 180°C / 350°F (fan) on the middle shelf for 15 minutes, then turn the slices and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes.

While the pumpkin is in the oven, finely slice the Brussels sprouts, then in a small bowl mix them well with some olive oil and raw cane sugar. As soon as the pumpkin comes out of the oven, put in the Brussels sprouts and bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Let the pumpkin and Brussels sprouts cool slightly while mixing the dressing.

Arrange vegetables over the salad leaves, drizzle with dressing, then serve slightly warm.

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