Saturday, 29 September 2012

Butternut Squash & Spinach Salad

As the temperatures begin to fall, the refreshing and cooling salads of the summer make way for more earthy flavours and textures. As October approaches I find myself adorning salad leaves with warmer ingredients. This is our third warm salad supper this week. My love of warm salads comes from France where salades ti√®des are often to be found on the menu. The one I often seek out is simple Salade Lyonnaise. Crunchy lettuce, sweet, mustardy dressing, salty lardons and creamy yolk oozing from a poached egg. The gentle heat from the bacon and egg warm the salad dressing and intensify its sweet-sour, salty garlickiness, yum. 

For my squash salad I wanted to replicate this balance of flavours and textures. This nutritious salad starts with a virtuous bed of spinach, dressed decadently with a sticky honey dressing to balance the earthy paprika spiced squash, salty bacon and nutty crunch of the seeds. My husband prefers this salad without the seeds. Food is subjective, recipes are to be adapted and tinkered with until you find the perfect combination for you. I simply make suggestions in the hope that I may inspire you to make something that you find utterly delicious for dinner. Vx

For 2 generous bowlfuls  of salad

1 medium sized butternut squash
6 rashers of pancetta
1 salad bag of spinach
Sweet paprika
Sea salt & pepper

For the dressing

1 clove of garlic
1 tsp. honey
4 tsp. sherry vinegar
8 tsp. rapeseed oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the squash and cut in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds and put them to one side for later. Chop the squash into chunks and place into a roasting dish. Toss in rapeseed oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and sweet paprika. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove any stringy bits from the squash seeds and rinse under the water. Dry on some kitchen towel. Toss with a teaspoon each of honey and rapeseed oil, a pinch of salt and paprika. 10 minutes before the squash is ready add the seeds and the pancetta rashers to the roasting tin.

Now for the dressing. Crush a clove of garlic and place in a jam jar. Followed by a teaspoon of honey, 4 teaspoons of sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt, give it a stir. Add 8 teaspoons of olive oil, put on the jam jar lid and shake until your dressing has thickened. Adjust to your taste: a little more vinegar? oil? salt?

Remove the squash from the oven. Toss the spinach leaves with half of the dressing and place in a bowl or plate. Place the squash on top of the spinach, crumble over the crunchy pancetta, sprinkle with the toasted squash seeds and add a dribble or two of dressing. Enjoy! Vx


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