Risoni Pesto Salad with Roast Pumpkin

Rissoni Pesto Salad with Roast Pumpkin

Following on from my previous post, this is one of my all time favourite uses for my Pesto. Its really not the kind of weather here for salad, but too much indulging with visitors, being sick and no gym calls for some healthy, wholesome food this week. This salad was a great hit with my best friend “the taste tester” and that made me decide to post it.

To make the salad you will need 1/2 cup or more of my Cashew Basil Pesto, of course you could use store bought, but it will be no way near as tasty – haha! The combination of the rice like pasta, crunchy beans, sweet caramelized pumpkin and the saltiness of the feta is so refreshing and then you get a pop of crunch from the roasted pine nuts and seeds -yum,  yum! I always cook this salad in stages, as I have 2 little ones who are very demanding and I have very short windows of  “ME” time. I just combine all ingredients just before its time to serve. The salad will last in the fridge for a couple of days  and can be refreshed with a squeeze of lemon before serving.



Risoni Pesto Salad with Roast Pumpkin


(Serves 6)


1/2 pumpkin ( any type) cut into 1 inch pieces

300g green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths

500g risoni pasta

1/2 cup Cashew Basil Pesto

2 tablespoons pine nut, pepita and sunflower seed mix

100g rocket and baby spinach mix

50g danish feta

2 tablespoons rice bran oil and extra for drizzling

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 180c fan forced, prepare an oven tray with baking paper, scatter the chopped pumpkin on the tray, drizzle with oil , mix with hands to cover, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, remove tray and turn the pumpkin over. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes (you want it to be a bit burnt and caramelized on the edges). When cooked, cool on tray and  place in fridge until ready to assemble salad.
  2. Cook pasta according to packet instructions (mine took 10 mins) strain and place in a large bowl with the rice bran oil (the oil stops the pasta from sticking together).
  3. Place the beans into a medium pot of salted boiling water, boil for 3 minutes, strain and place into a bowl of cold water. Set aside.
  4. Roast the seed and nut mix in a small fry pan until lightly browned, keep an eye on it, they will burn quickly. Place in a small bowl until ready to sprinkle on top.
  5. Combine the pasta with the Cashew Basil Pesto, beans and crumbled feta, gently fold to combine, season with salt and pepper.
  6. Scatter the rocket and baby spinach leaves in a large salad bowl or serving platter, top with pasta mixture, roast pumpkin, nut and seed mix, lemon juice and a drizzle of oil.



Cashew Basil Pesto

Cashew Pesto

Pesto! …… I have a crazy, out of control basil plant so I’m forever making it. I don’t stick to the traditional recipe as I’m not a fan of pine nuts, I use roasted cashews instead, but I have used sunflower seeds, pepitas and even walnuts. The basil can be substituted or even mixed with kale or baby spinach.My style of pesto is on the chunky side and not as basily -is that a word? as the store bought ones. You will need a food processor or a mini one (you will just have to do it in batches or just halve or quarter the recipe) lots of basil, cashews, garlic, lemon and the ever so popular parmesan cheese. The recipe makes 1 3/4 cups- I know weird quantity? To store your pesto, place in a sealed jar with a layer of oil on the top, it will last 2 weeks in the fridge. Don’t forget every time you use some, replace the top with a little oil, this stops it from browning. I have frozen the pesto and it will last up to 2 months.



Cashew Basil Pesto


2 cups of basil, firmly packed

3/4 cup rice bran oil

80g parmesan, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped

1 cup roasted cashews

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper


  1. Place the basil and a drizzle of the oil into the food processor, pulse a couple of times till combined.
  2.  Add the parmesan, garlic and cashews, blitz until nice and chunky, add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge.

Warm Duck Salad with Orange and Fennel

Warm Duck Salad with Orange and Fennel

 My days have been pretty slow, being sick puts such a downer on your mood. All it takes is some nice produce or more to the point…DUCK to get me excited, now I’m feeling slightly human.This recipe was adapted from  Curtis Stone’s Asian Duck Salad.I love the combination of orange and fennel, the sweetness of the orange cuts through the aniseed flavours of the fennel and they all come together to balance the richness of the duck. Perfect!
It will only takes 30 minutes, cook the duck (or even quicker,buy ready cooked duck breasts), prepare the salad and whip up the dressing. You could use chicken or spatchcock and the dressing will last a couple of days in the fridge.


Warm Duck Salad with Orange and Fennel

(serves 4)

4x duck breasts, cooked to liking and sliced, or precooked duck
1 Fennel, finely sliced
1 Shallot, Julienne
1 Lebanese Cucumber, cut into ribbons
2 cups of Baby Spinach
2 Segmented Oranges

1/4 cup Fresh Orange Juice
2 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 tsp Sesame oil


  1. Cook the duck to your liking , cover and set aside to rest.
  2.  Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl or pour into a glass jar and shake to combine.
  3. Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl, toss, then pour over half the dressing and toss again.
  4.  Arrange salad on serving plates, top with sliced Duck and the remaining dressing.