ginger roasted pumpkin + quinoa salad w/ mint, chilli + lime {gluten-free, vegan}

Ginger roasted pumpkin + quinoa salad w/ mint, chilli + lime {gluten-free, vegan}

You know something? It’s been just over three years since we packed up our little quiet New Zealand life and in a sleep-deprived moment of madness decided to move 5345.72km to what felt like the other side of the world. My friend asked me the other day if that was a hard decision to make and the short answer is yes. Yes it was most probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, to take my then 2 and 4 year old kids away from the only life they had ever known, to leave the home they were born in, to take them away from their friends, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, aunties and uncles. To up-root myself from my home, where my heart still lives.

It’s not a decision we took lightly. We actually put it off 2 years longer than we were going to.
In the weeks leading up to the move, Si and I would sit on the couch at night, when the kids were tucked up in bed and wonder out loud how our life was going to be in the coming months, weeks, years. We sat there trying to imagine how different everything would soon be, but in that moment we were unable to see. But there is also a longer answer that’s basically summed up by this: In many ways it was not a hard decision to make at all. We were barely scrapping by, only able to afford food on the table and a roof over our head. It’s not how either of us wanted to live. So we took a leap…

Ginger roasted pumpkin + quinoa salad w/ mint, chilli + lime {gluten-free, vegan}
Ginger roasted pumpkin + quinoa salad w/ mint, chilli + lime {gluten-free, vegan}

We moved to Perth with nothing more than a few bags of possessions each. We shipped over some of my cookbooks and the kids bikes and that was basically it. We even borrowed money out of Ada’s bank account to buy the plane tickets (note to self: pay her back one day!). I still remember the feeling of being completely and utterly lost in this new land, and the tears that came from all of us. Okay maybe not Si, I can’t really remember, but I know the kids and I shed enough tears over the next year for the lot of us. Not long after we found our own place to rent (we stayed with my mother-in-law for the first few months) Si got a job which took him away for weeks at a time. I suddenly found myself in a new country alone, with two kids and no idea of how to even get around Perth, let alone live in it and enjoy it. That first year was hellish. I don’t think I really ever let it slip on here just how tough it was at the time (but you can probably tell from the amount of baking I did back then that I really wasn’t coping so well!).

But you know, time is a funny thing. After that hellish year passed I started to find my feet, mostly thanks to some of the loveliest ladies I’ve ever met. They picked me up and held my hand and opened my eyes to this beautiful place we now call home. Now, three years on I can’t imagine life any other way than what it is right now. The thought of moving home to NZ again while it makes me excited, it equally makes me sad. I miss my family like crazy, I miss quiet NZ life and I miss the beach. If you’d said 15 years ago that my kids would one day have Australian accents I would have laughed out loud in disbelief. I wear my pounamu (greenstone) earrings with pride, but I don’t take it so far as to have silver fern stickers all over our car (!!). The fact that my kids aren’t growing up surrounded by Maori culture (like I did) makes my heart hurt, but I also know that life over here is pretty damn perfect too. Nearly everyday I toss up the pros and cons of bringing up kids in both places, but it never gets me anywhere. I guess that’s what ya get when you fall in love with someone from another country.

When Si’s home on his one week off we now sit on the couch at night, when the kids are tucked up in bed and wonder out loud how our life is going to be in the coming months, weeks, years. We sit here trying to imagine how different everything will be when we move back home to NZ, but in that moment we are unable to see…

A few notes:
Perth book launch info is here! Tickets are limited so get in quick.
Fishpond now have my book up for pre-orders and they ship worldwide for free!! Whoop.

Ginger roasted pumpkin + quinoa salad w/ mint, chilli + lime {gluten-free, vegan}
Ginger roasted pumpkin + quinoa salad w/ mint, chilli + lime {gluten-free, vegan}

ginger roasted pumpkin + quinoa salad w/ mint, chilli + lime
This is my favourite go-to way to eat quinoa. Flavoursome roasted vegetables, quinoa, a ton of herbs and a bright simple dressing. I used Queensland blue pumpkin, but Crown (NZ) or butternut would be great too. I used a couple of our fire-hot birds eye chillies from the garden, but you can use whatever you like. Regular long red/green chillies would be fine, use 1-2, it’s up to you. I buy my coriander (cilantro) in large bunches that have the stems and roots still attached, which I finely chop and add to the pumpkin before roasted. This adds loads of flavour, but if you can only get coriander without the roots, don’t worry about it.
Serves 2-4 or more as a side

1kg piece pumpkin
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 green or red chillies, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
a handful of finely chopped coriander (cilantro) roots and stems, optional
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (185g) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water

The juice of two limes (or large lemon)
a good handful each of fresh mint and coriander (cilantro) leaves
toasted pumpkin (pepita) seeds

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F. Peel pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut into even chunks approximately 2-3cm wide. Combine pumpkin with ginger, chilli, garlic, olive oil, maple and coriander roots and season well with salt and pepper. Combine well before turning out onto a large oven tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once or twice or until the pumpkin is lovely a golden and soft right through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile place quinoa into a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well. Bring the water to the boil in a small saucepan before adding the quinoa, covering with a lid and reducing the heat down to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat, leave the lid on and set aside to steam for a further 5 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.

When both the pumpkin and quinoa are cooked, combine the two in a large bowl, making sure you scrape any lovely bits of ginger and oil from the bottom of the roasting tray into the bowl too. Squeeze over the lime, stir through the herbs, season with more salt and pepper if desired and scatter over the pumpkin seeds to serve. You can eat this warm or cool the pumpkin and quinoa first before stirring through the herbs and serve at room temperature.

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  • Nicky
    March 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Gosh you were brave to make the move and to keep going through that first tough year or so. I'll always think of you as Emma from Raglan, no matter where you are living! Arohanui, nicky x

    • emma
      March 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks Nicky! That first year was full on, but so glad we didn't just run home when things got tough xx

  • Francesca
    March 17, 2014 at 8:57 am

    What a great story from the heart. Although I think Quinoa is overdone ( just like its best friend,Kale) , your story of moving and feeling that double identity, double loyalty really touched me.

    • emma
      March 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Haha yes, kale and quinoa are everywhere (they're so good for you though, so I don't mind!). Thanks for your lovely words xx

  • Anonymous
    March 17, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Hi Emma

    NZ is a lovely place and I would have found it very difficult to leave too. However, Perth is a great place to be as well!
    Many congratulations on your book (which I can't wait to receive).
    Love your recipes.

    • emma
      March 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Thanks Erica! Yes both places are awesome, that's for sure xx

  • Sunburnt Aussie in Saigon
    March 17, 2014 at 10:09 am

    This sounds yummy. I've been wondering what to do with the leftover quinoa from making Riley's baby food. I think this will be tomorrow's lunch.

    • emma
      March 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Enjoy Chantelle! xx

  • eatthismyfriend
    March 17, 2014 at 10:31 am

    That cover shot is simply stunning!
    Not to mention the dish sounds absolutely delicious. You are kicking goals Emma!

    X Jade

    • emma
      March 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks heaps Jade xx

  • InTolerant Chef
    March 17, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I'm glad you now feel so at home here Em, we're very happy to have you sweetie 🙂 Yummy recipe, live the maple syrup x

    • emma
      March 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks Rebecca! That little touch of sweetness it brings is lovely 🙂

  • Anonymous
    March 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    That sounds so yum Em, pumpkin and ginger would be a great combo. I feel like you've peeked inside my head as I have similar thoughts swirling around about what life would be like moving back to NZ too. Aussie is a fantastic country but it sure is nice to go home and see the whanau aye xx Paula

    • emma
      March 18, 2014 at 3:58 am

      For sure! xx

  • Kate
    March 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    It must be so wonderful to look back and see how far you've come – what an incredible adventure! This recipe looks like exactly the way I like my quinoa too – bold flavours, texture from vegetables and a bit of spice. Lovely.

    • emma
      March 18, 2014 at 4:01 am

      It sure is! xx

  • Dixya
    March 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    im so happy that things have settled for you and Si in Perth. I bet leaving your home country is hard but sometimes its just the situation. looking forward to many more of your adventure. take care.

    • emma
      March 18, 2014 at 4:01 am

      Thanks love xx

  • molly yeh
    March 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    i loved reading this so much. i can really identify with some of this and it's really heart warming to read about your story. you have such a wonderful outlook. thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    also, this quinoa is beautiful!!

    • emma
      March 18, 2014 at 3:59 am

      Thanks Molly! I sometimes wish I wasn't a person who feels such a huge tie to where they grew up, but it's not something I have control over and it's nice to know I'm not alone in my thoughts xx

  • Joyti
    March 17, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Change takes so much courage.

    The recipe sounds delicious. My seasons are the opposite of yours – the squash season is ending here but I hope to make this in fall. The sour-spicy, bold flavors sound terrific.

    • emma
      March 18, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Ah yes, it's hard reading blogs from opposite ends of the world! Enjoy your peas and asparagus 🙂 Actually, asparagus roasted in this way with the ginger etc would make a lovely spring version! xx

  • Anonymous
    March 18, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Wow…..i just left Perth, uprooted what had become "home" for me (I'm from the UK) to move to California and am currently going through what must have been your first year in Perth! I am so itching to jump on a plane and get back there, but know my husband and I have to see this out (work!), but reminds me i'm not alone. In a world obsessed with social media it's tough trying not to look at other people's lives and not feel envy/jealousy….and sad about your own state of affairs. First world problems right! Anyway….the salad looks fabulous and wherever you go I wish you and your family well! And of course, I'm happy Perth is now comfortable! I miss my Perth coffee shops! 🙁

    kat xox

    • emma
      March 19, 2014 at 1:50 am

      Oh Kat, I feel for ya I really do. That first year is SO blimmen hard. But as you will already know from leaving the UK it's amazing how quickly one becomes used to the place they are living in and then can't imagine ever leaving it! All the best love xx

  • london bakes
    March 18, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Such an interesting post to read. We've never had to make that kind of big leap but I'm so heartened to see how it's paid off for you guys. Here's to many happy more years wherever you end up! xx

    • emma
      March 19, 2014 at 1:51 am

      Thanks Kathryn! xx

  • Golubka
    March 20, 2014 at 1:14 am

    I've never been to your part of the world and your posts so often make me want to discover it. I definitely can relate to your story, as I myself moved thousands of miles away to a completely different world. The first couple of years was as hard as they were exciting. I'm going back home to visit in a month, it has been a long time and I can hardly wait.

    • emma
      March 25, 2014 at 2:27 am

      Oh wow, enjoy your trip home Anya! Much love xx

  • Yasmeen
    March 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    What a beautiful, delicate salad. This is certainly on my to-make list.

    Though I didn't have children at the time of my move (from US to Holland, then to Australia), I shared many of your feelings about upheaval, uprooting, and doubt. Now I simply can't imagine living anywhere other than Melbourne – I've found it's vibrant heart and never want to let it go. When I think of moving 'home,' to Washington DC, I'm met with excitement and nerves. Amazing where life takes us.

    • emma
      March 25, 2014 at 2:28 am

      Isn't it funny how much we get used to a new place, so much that we can't imagine ever leaving! xx

  • Sam
    March 24, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Emma you are such a gifted storyteller! Such a brave leap.

    Also, I want everything on that table including the crockery. Looks delicious!

    • emma
      March 25, 2014 at 2:29 am

      Thanks Sam! (I'm rather stoked with my recent op-shop Japanese bakeware!).

  • Bek
    March 24, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I haven't long discovered your blog, your recipes are fabulous, can't wait to try some. Congrats on your book, looks stunning (and delicious). You also write with such a gorgeous openness and honesty, it's so refreshing. Thanks!

    • emma
      March 25, 2014 at 2:30 am

      Thanks so much Bek. Such kind words xx

  • Jacquie
    March 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    My order is in!!I receive my book April 7-17 wahooo:O so exciting. In Arizona on first vacation in 10 years,will drop u a line when I return.great post emm.xxoo

    • emma
      March 25, 2014 at 2:31 am

      Wahooo Jacquie!!! I can't wait for you to see it. Have an awesome holiday, you and your family SO deserve it! Much love xx

  • leonie
    June 1, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    we sold all our stuff seven years ago and moved from nz to the uk. to say i was unhappy for the first two years is an understatement! i had always wanted to travel and when it came to it, i questioned my sanity for the longest time. whilst we had a marvellous time in the uk, there was never any doubt in my mind that we would move back to nz someday. september last year, we said goodbye to our life and our friends in london and moved back to nz, finding a little house on waiheke island that is now our home. i miss my friends in the uk (just like i missed my nz friends whilst we were there), but the oceans and family and the quieter lifestyle are all so great.

    i think the trick is to not have any regrets about any of it and it seems like you have that sorted.

    also, winter weather brings out the pumpkin lover in me and this recipe will definitely be on my list for sometime soon. thanks

  • The Wellness Wife
    October 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I love this mix of ingredients. And, so eye appealing, too. I use a bi or tri-colored quinoa mix also. I don't know if it's psychological or not, but not only is the presentation better, it tastes better, too.

  • kiwisue629
    January 23, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Loved the clean fresh flavour of the lemon dressing in pumpkin and quinoa salad. Definitely a keeper. I used about half a cup of quinoa and no chilli. I loved reading your blog. Take care from Auckland, NZ.

  • Vanessa
    September 6, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Best recipe ever!! Love it!

  • Alice
    January 21, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Really lovely recipe, super tasty, nice with a bit more chilli for a cook or some spinach also, thank you for the recipe