Pumpkin and Sweet potato salad PICTURE: Aaron Bertelsen
This is a very special recipe for me for a number of reasons. First, it came to me from someone who I can honestly say changed my life. I have known Susan Butt as a neighbour and great friend since I was three years old – we are like family. After university, when I wanted to get into gardening, Susan was the person who told me about Great Dixter and encouraged me to write to Christopher: the rest is history. Second, I am very happy to have a recipe that feels like it has a New Zealand flavour to it – ‘kumara’ is the Maori word for sweet potato. 

Pumpkin and kumara salad (Serves 8) 
Preparation: 10 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking: 45 minutes

500 g chopped pumpkin flesh (choose a firm, sweet variety) 
500 g chopped kumara (sweet potato) 
olive oil salt and pepper 

For the dressing 
small handful each coriander (cilantro) and mint 
2 cloves garlic, crushed (minced) 
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon runny honey
5 tablespoons olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 
To serve 
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped 
small handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 

Preheat the oven to 180°C
Put the pumpkin and sweet potatoes into separate bowls. Toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper. 
Transfer the sweet potatoes to a roasting tray and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, adding the pumpkin for the last 20 minutes. 
Turn occasionally and cook until golden and tender. 
To make the dressing, put all the ingredients except the lemon zest into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. 
Add half the dressing to the warm vegetables and toss. Let cool. 
Just before serving, add the remaining dressing to the vegetables and sprinkle with the spring onions (scallions), flat-leaf parsley and lemon zest. 

Recipe from The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes from an English Garden by Aaron Bertelsen. Published by Phaidon. It's available for purchase from Loot.co.za for R476. Click here to purchase the book. 

The Independent