Monday 26 August 2013

Broccoli & Feta Harissa Salad with Spicy Roasted Pepita for Lucy

Every intern wants to perform their first surgery. That's not your job. Do you know what your job is? To make your resident happy. Do I look happy? No! Why? Because my interns are whiney. You know what will make me look happy? Having the code team staffed, having the trauma pages answered, having the weekend labs delivered and having someone down in the pit doing the sutures. No-one holds a scalpel until I'm so happy I'm Mary Freaking Poppins. ~ Dr Miranda Bailey, Greys Anatomy.

Before we started our surgical rotation, I thought I had a pretty good idea as to what it was going to be like.

I've watched Grey's Anatomy.  I knew how it was going to go down.

But I'm no Meredith.  I never ever thought I'd want to be a surgeon.  High stress, long hours, super competitive people and lots of yucky stuff.  Did not sound like my cup of tea.

AND I was bracing myself to be that girl. 

Boy, was I ever wrong.  I have absolutely loved it.  Surgery is amazing.  Sure, I probably won't get to even look at a scalpel for about a million years but it's enough just to be there and get to watch it up close. Gah so much awesomeness.

One of the downsides of watching surgeries though is that you're on your feet for hours on end, so if you haven't eaten a big enough meal beforehand your face-plant risk is pretty high. 

My friend Lucy and I pondered this very dilemma: what would be a good pre-surgery lunch that's filling enough to keep you on your feet but refreshing enough to not give you a food coma?  My answer: Broccoli & Feta Harissa Salad with Spicy Roasted Pepita.

We first got introduced to this by my mother in law and we've been absolutely thrashing it at home recently.  For good reason too.  It is incredibly tasty: all smoky paprika, tangy lemon, and hot garlicky harissa.  What a combo.

Add to that creamy feta and crunchy broccoli to soak up the dressing and you have a healthy and filling but utterly delicious meal.  Healthy doesn't have to be boring.

And I haven't even raved about the spicy little oh-so-moreish roasted pumpkin seeds that go on top.  Seriously, who knew pumpkin seeds could be so sexy?? (Giving them a Spanish name helps too...) They are also so easy to whip up and so addictive.  I eat them by the handful just on their own but they are also perfect to finish off this dish.

It's really easy to adjust this dish to suit you, load up the broccoli and enjoy it as a light lunch or bulk it out with more pasta for a more filling dinner or as the perfect fuel to enter the cut throat world of surgery.

Watch out, Christina.

Broccoli and Feta Harissa Salad with Spicy Roasted Pepita

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson and thanks to Di for introducing this to us!

Serves around 4 for dinner.

2 heads of broccoli or 1 big one, washed and cut into bite sized florets (I like cutting up and using the stalk too)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

250g dried penne pasta, cooked to the packet instructions.

100g feta cheese
~1/4 cup of spicy roasted pepita (recipe below)
Harissa Dressing

Harissa Dressing
1 Tablespoon harissa
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (to taste)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
ground black pepper

Spicy Roasted Pepita
~ 2 cups of pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cajun seasoning or 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 Tablespoon light soy sauce

1. Spicy Roasted Pepita: Heat a large heavy frying pan without any oil on medium heat.  Add pumpkin seeds and dry roast, stirring frequently, till just starting to go golden.  Add dried spices and toss to coat well.  Pour soy sauce as evenly as you can over all the pumpkin seeds and take off the heat, stirring really well to stop them from sticking.  Cool on a tray before placing in a airtight glass jar.  Will keep for a few weeks.

2. Harissa Dressing: Mix all the ingredients together.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

3. In a pan, heat a little olive oil and cook the broccoli for around 4 minutes stirring.  Add a splash of water and let it cook off (~1 minute) until the broccoli is tender. If you like your broccoli softer, alternatively you can toss the broccoli into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes then drain and run under cold water to refresh.  Lightly season the broccoli with salt and pepper.

4. To assemble the salad: toss the broccoli, penne, and feta together with the harissa dressing then top with pepita just before serving.


  1. ooh ooh ooh! perfect for non-interns too! some of my favourite flavours.

  2. Looks so vibrant and delicious. Thanks for the recipe!



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