One of the great philosophers of our time once posed the theory that ‘You don’t win friends with salad’, but I would tend to disagree. Strongly, actually. I’ve got a few special ones up my sleeve that definitely win fans, if not friends exactly. I promise to tell you about them all, and urge you to wheel one or two of them out whenever you’ve got people coming over for lunch or dinner, and especially when you are asked to ‘bring a plate’ to someone else’s soiree.

A friend of mine hosted a lunch recently and asked one of the guests to bring a salad. I think it’s fair to say that inspiration, imagination, and motivation were not among that guest’s strong suits that day, as said salad was revealed to consist of just iceberg lettuce and quartered tomatoes. Only. Not even dressing. You do not want to be that person.

Here’s one for when you’re in the mood for something substantial:

What you need:

Pumpkin – approximately 1kg
Swiss brown or button mushrooms – about 12
Marinated feta – a few cubes
Rocket – a handful or two
Pepitas – a handful
Fresh thyme – a few sprigs
Lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil – for dressing
Olive oil for roasting the veg
Salt and pepper

What you do:

Preheat oven to 200° C. Remove the skin from the pumpkin and chop it up into large cubes, about 4cm each. Cut the mushrooms into thick slices. Put the pumpkin and mushrooms into a large roasting pan, spray or drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and give it all a good toss about. Roast for about 40 minutes, turning everything over after about 30 minutes.

Wash and dry the rocket.

When the pumpkin and mushrooms are done to your liking, take them out of the oven and leave to cool down a bit.  When you can’t wait any longer, put the rocket into a large bowl, drizzle with the lemon-infused oil and crumble in the feta. Add roasted pumpkin and mushrooms to the bowl along with the pepitas and thyme leaves, and mix everything together.

Try it. You might win friends.