Maple-roasted pumpkin, chicken and pasta salad

Maple-roasted pumpkin, chicken and pasta salad

Dinner Like A Boss
4-6 people
20 mins
Cooking time
25 mins
Benito Martin

I’ve talked about ‘separatist’ kids in my introduction and, as a parent of one (who fortunately has now grown out of it), I know that encouraging kids to eat salads from a young age is a good way to get them to try different flavours and textures. You can easily serve salads as individual components for the separatists (and this one is no exception) and tossed together for everyone else. When the separatists see the rest of the family eating the food all mixed up, hopefully one day they will too.


Quantity Ingredient
500g pumpkin, such as butternut, kent or jap
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
1 teaspoon ground coriander, optional
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
600g boneless, skinless chicken breast, preferably free-range
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
300g wholemeal penne
2 corn cobs, husks and silks removed
or 250g frozen corn kernels, defrosted
60g rocket
or other salad leaf such as baby cos lettuce


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey


  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced and line a baking tray with baking paper. Peel the pumpkin, cut it into 1 cm cubes and place it on the tray. In a small bowl, combine the spices (if using), 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, then drizzle the mixture over the pumpkin. Season with salt and toss to coat. Roast the pumpkin in the oven for 15–20 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil for the pasta. Cut the chicken breast horizontally into two thinner steaks: place your hand flat on top of the chicken and use a sharp knife to slice through, horizontally. In a shallow dish, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the remaining maple syrup and the mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat.
  3. Cook the penne in the boiling water according to the packet instructions, adding the corn cobs for the final 4 minutes of cooking (if using defrosted frozen corn kernels, add them for the final 2 minutes). Drain the pasta, but reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooking water.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium–high heat. Cook the chicken, in batches, for 3–4 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  5. Coarsely tear any larger rocket or salad leaves into bitesized pieces. Lie the corn cob on a board, then slice the kernels off each side using a sharp knife.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the dressing ingredients with the pasta cooking water, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the pasta, pumpkin, corn kernels and rocket to the dressing and toss gently. Tear or slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces, or thinly slice it, and either toss it through the salad or serve separately.


  • Instead of pasta you can use quinoa. Simmer 200 g of quinoa in 375 ml of water for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, place a clean tea towel over the pan, cover with the lid of the saucepan and let the quinoa sit for 5–10 minutes to absorb any remaining steam.
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