Warm winter salad with butternut squash and goats cheese
Nourishing and warm in winter, or kitchen-supper worthy in summer
A real pick-it-from-the-pantry special - with the addition of one or two 'star' ingredients. I was inspired by one of those Waitrose recipe cards, you know the ones that are displayed by the entrance and then end up cluttering up your kitchen as you fail to get round to buying chia seeds or sweet comfrey or whatever you need to complete the dish. That's what I love about Larder Than Life cooking - it's about replacing the things you don't have with what you do have - so for example in this recipe Waitrose demanded I use dried cranberries (craisins?) and pecans... which I didn't have, but I did have sultanas and walnuts, and they replaced the official ingredients splendidly.
You will need (for two people)
Half a butternut squash - I used the seeded end - deseeded, and cut into 1cm thick slices. Skin on.
Sumac if you have it, or chilli flakes/powder
2 small heads of chicory
Green beans (optional, but add in some extra health)
100g goats cheese
Handful of walnuts
Handful of sultanas
Handful of sunflower seeds (or whatever you have in the pantry)
For the dressing:
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Glug of olive oil
Tsp dijon mustard
Start by chopping up the squash into fairly decent 1cm thick slices. I used the seeded end so I had more crescent-shaped pieces, but you could equally do it with chunks if you really like. Slug some olive oil on top and give them a little shimmer, and season with salt and pepper. I had some sumac in the pantry so sprinkled some on top, but you could use paprika, chilli flakes etc. Pop into the oven at about 200C for approximately 30 mins. For the last 5 min add in whatever nuts you are using - I found some walnuts, which were just within their sell-by date. WIN. At about the same time put some green beans on to boil so that they're done at the same time as the squash and nuts.
In the meantime, prepare your dressing. Zest half a lemon and juice it too, adding both into a small jug (or jam jar) with a decent slug (say 2tbsp?) of good olive oil. I had some truffle infused dijon mustard than needed using up (and no longer smelled or tasted of truffle - SAD FACE) so I popped about a tsp of that in and mixed it together well. Season etc - oh and I added a pinch of sumac to it too as it was out and I have very little other cause for using sumac, so in it got bunged!
Cut off the knobby end of the chicory heads and separate the leaves. Wash and dry and place in your serving plates. You could go all fancy and do it in a large dish for the table, but for just the two of us I plated it up individually. As I was waiting for the squash to finish cooking I dressed the chicory leaves a bit first. Once the beans and squash were done, I was ready to 'mantle' the dish. I drained the beans and then put them back in their saucepan with a little of the dressing on top so that we made sure every bean was covered. Then I added the squash and nuts to the chicory leaves, added sultanas and pumpkin seeds and divided the goats cheese between the plates. I happened to have some parsley so I popped a couple of leaves on. Then I dressed both plates, using the original dressing and anything in the saucepan from the beans too. Finis!
As said above, the joy of this dish is that you can basically add anything in (within reason) as it's all tied together by the dressing. Slightly stale ciabatta-style bread might be nice, warmed through and then drizzled with more olive oil, and of course other nuts and seeds could work - but the particular softness of walnuts was a good texture I thought.
Original idea from Waitrose and one of their recipe cards. A card that survived not only the journey home (so many end their days in the dampness of the car boot), but being taken out of the bag (again, so many end their days as unwitting bag liners) and actually put in a position of prominence in the kitchen. Bravo Waitys!