Whomever is complaining this year about there being no summer, please shut up NOW (and don't jinx it for the rest of us!). If you add the "summer" days we've had from 2004 to now, the average is 7. Seriously. Spread out over 3 months. So, right now it's bit after mid-summer (in my biological calendar, which defines summer as 1 June - 31 August) and we've already had more than 7 days of sun, warmth, and - dare I even say it? - "mini heatwave".
Being a dedicated meatterian during the winter, I find that once the summer comes I become mostly a strict icecreamterian with some fish and seafood mixed in (not in the ice-cream, in my food regime). I'm not a big fan of salads as I find them mostly boring, but I love to discover weird combinations, and mix and match things to my taste, most of the times including a favourite ingredient that becomes the key, like parmesan, or - in this case - butternut squash.
Although on a very hot day the last thing I want to do is turn the oven on, when I think of this warm salad I drool, and I make up for the extra heat in the kitchen by disappearing quickly out of it as soon as the squash is done and the salad is plated, enjoying it in the cool garden or living room.
I had found this recipe in an old Tesco Magazine and had cut it out, but I didn't like some things in it (like the red onion and the lack of dressing) so I adapted it a bit more to my taste. This has become my all-time favourite salad, and that's saying a lot, coming from me. Try this with a chilled glass of fresh lemonade on a hot day, it's absolutely dreamy...
Roasted butternut squash salad
Source: Adapted from Tesco Magazine
- ½ butternut squash
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- A pinch of cinnamon
- A pinch of nutmeg
- A pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 bag rocket
- A handful of pumpkin seeds
- A handful of dried cranberries
- 60g goats' cheese (I prefer Soignon)
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Cut the butternut squash in small cubes and toss in a tray with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of maple syrup, the chilli powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Roast for 35 minutes or until browned and caramelised.
In a small bowl mix the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil with the 2 tbsp of maple syrup and set aside. Place the rocket leaves on a plate, add the squash hot from the oven, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and cranberries on top, add the goats' cheese in small pieces and drizzle with the dressing. Serve before the squash has the chance to cool down, this will make the goats' cheese slightly melt, which gives the whole salad a wonderful texture.