Roast Pumpkin, Barley & Walnut Salad

June 28th, 2024


A kitchen shelf of harvested pumpkins and squash is always a good feeling as we come into the winter months. They are the ultimate self-preserving vegetable, that once well-cured in the autumn sun will store well for many months. They also won’t sprout like root vegetables so can be stored in a light position, and on display with their different shapes, sizes and colours. 

In my lower sun hour garden (even in the summer months) my luck with pumpkins can be varied. After some trial and error, I have discovered that smaller, quicker-growing squash varieties such as Kabocha, Butternut or Spaghetti squash do well here. In a sunny spot and well watered, is important for a good size. I then look out for larger denser pumpkins at local markets to add to my garden harvest to last us the winter months.

Once cut into pumpkins and squash keep best in cool storage. With a large pumpkin, this can take up space so I tend to roast up a tray of pumpkin wedges at a time to use for meals – or mash and freeze into portioned containers. The cooked wedges can then be used in savoury dishes such as grain salads (see recipe below), mashed as you would potato, and even used in sweet recipes – see chocolate brownie

Pumpkins do vary in flavour, and ensuring the pumpkin or squash has had time to ripen in the garden and then cured in a warm dry position is essential for sweet flavoursome flesh. There is nothing more disappointing than an average-tasting pumpkin. Growing them yourself or sourcing from a grower you trust can ensure cooking success. 

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Roast Pumpkin, Barley & Walnut Salad

Barley is a wonderful grain to cook in winter. It is robust with a good chew, and eating it truly feels like sustenance. Most often it is added to soups but it can also be used in hearty salads. In this winter salad, I combine sweet roasted pumpkin, salty feta, crunchy walnuts and a fresh lemony dressing. Serve as a light lunch, the barley is incredibly filling and sustaining, or as a side to dinner.
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour


  • ¾ cup (150g) barley - see notes below for gluten-free options
  • ½ teaspoon salt + extra for seasoning
  • about 400g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • large handful parsley, chopped
  • 100 g feta, crumbled
  • cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Lemon Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  • First, cook the barley. If time allows, pre-soak the barley in a bowl with 2 cups boiling water from the kettle. Set aside to soak for 2-4 hours (this will soften the grain and speed cooking). Either way, rinse the barley in a sieve and place it into a saucepan. Add 3 cups cold water, add the salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, and up to 40 minutes if not soaked, until the barley is tender. Drain the cooked barley in a sieve then tip into a wide salad bowl.
  • Meanwhile, roast the pumpkin. Heat the to 190ºC (fan 170ºC). Place the pumpkin on a small roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt and toss to combine. Roast for 10 minutes, flip the pumpkin and roast for a further 10-15 minutes until golden.
  • Scatter the pumpkin over the drained barley, and set aside to cool until warm. Then, add the parsley, feta and walnuts, and gently mix together.
  • Make the dressing. Combine the ingredients in a jar and shake to emulsify.
  • When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.


*To make this salad gluten-free use cooked quinoa or brown rice. Find cooking directions here.

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