Thanksgiving recipe: Roasted pumpkin salad

DIFFERENT: Pumpkin comes out of its shell in this salad.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Pumpkin has gotten stereotyped at the holiday table. If it’s not served in a pie, it’s not served at all. But this recipe from Times Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter turns the pumpkin on its head, serving it as a first course, in a complex salad with leeks and bitter greens. The recipe is demonstrated in a video at left by Noelle Carter.

Roasted pumpkin salad is one of the favorite holiday recipes we’ve collected in our “Los Angeles Times Holiday Handbook.” The book shares more than 110 seasonal recipes to help you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. We’ve also updated last year’s “Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookies,” so it now includes 65 recipes from a wide range of sources, including world-famous pastry chefs and home cooks.

Each book is $4.99, and they are available at the Los Angeles Times bookstore for Kindle, Nook and iBooks.



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You can find Noelle Carter on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. Email Noelle at

Roasted pumpkin salad


Total time: About 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus cooling time for the vegetables

Servings: 8 to 10

10 cups cubed pumpkin (peeled and seeded), cut into 1-inch pieces (from about 7 pounds of pumpkin)

3 cups red pearl onions, peeled and trimmed

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 1/8 teaspoons salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon minced rosemary

1 teaspoon minced thyme

6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 -inch strips

1 medium leek, trimmed (root end and tough outer greens), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4 -inch strips

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup walnut oil

1 cup walnut halves

2 heads frisée, leaves separated from the root

6 cups lightly packed mesclun mix or mixed greens

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin and onions with 3 tablespoons olive oil, one-half teaspoon salt, several grinds of pepper, the rosemary and thyme. Place the vegetables on a foil-lined baking pan and roast until softened and lightly caramelized, about 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes for even coloring. Remove the pan and allow the pumpkin and onions to cool to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat, discarding or reserving the rest for another use.

4. Add the leek strips to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and just begin to color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the white wine and cook, scraping any of the flavorful bits that stick to the bottom of the pan, until the wine evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Place the leek strips and any cooking liquid in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and mustard. Drizzle in the walnut oil while whisking to emulsify. Season with one-eighth teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, or to taste. Set aside in a warm place.

6. Toss the walnuts with 3 tablespoons olive oil and one-half teaspoon salt. Spread on a sheet pan and toast in the 375-degree oven until the nuts are fragrant and a rich brown color, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. Set aside. The salad components can be made up to this point 1 day in advance. Refrigerate the components separately, and warm the dressing before folding into the salad.

7. In a large serving bowl, toss the greens with two-thirds of the vinaigrette. Gently fold in the roasted pumpkin and onions, the bacon and toasted walnuts. Add extra vinaigrette as needed to lightly coat the contents.

8. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until needed, up to several hours in advance. Allow to warm slightly before serving.

Each of 10 servings: 357 calories; 7 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 27 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 8 mg. cholesterol; 426 mg. sodium.