Easy Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, Rocket, and Pine Nut Salad
This is a fantastic salad for vegetarians. It's really flavourful, but it's easy to make as well. The spices and sherry vinegar make a delicious dressing, and the turmeric is an addition with an abundance of reported health benefits. This is the kind of salad that you could happily serve to vegetarians at a dinner party because it makes a great alternative to a meat dish.
This recipe is adapted from Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. I think the addition of the goat cheese works incredibly well as the cheese's saltiness contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the dressing. It also makes it a more substantial meal so that it becomes a great main course by itself—or a more filling side dish if you are serving a variety of different plates.
One thing to note: There's absolutely no need to remove the skin from the butternut squash. They are fairly difficult to peel, and when cooked thoroughly, the skin becomes soft and edible like most vegetables. In fact, I think this salad tastes better when the skin is on. Just be sure to give it a good wash first.
- 1 butternut squash, skin on
- 1 teaspoon salt flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 50g golden sultanas
- 60ml boiled water
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 100g rocket
- 50g pine nuts
- 1 log soft goat cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200C or gas mark 6. Cut the butternut squash into slices that are approximately 1.5cm and then cut each slice into four pieces. (When I first made this recipe, I used to peel the butternut squash, but I recently discovered that the skin is edible and that I really like it!)
- Put the salt, turmeric, ginger and 2 tablespoons of the oil into a bowl and mix. Then pour the mixture onto a lined baking tray, leaving the bowl with the traces of the oil and spices. Place the butternut squash on top and turn it to coat with the oil.
- Cook the butternut squash until soft. There's a little bit of guesswork involved here, but it usually takes between 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. The important thing is to make sure it's really well cooked; undercooked butternut squash is not pleasant.
- Place the golden sultanas in the bowl in which you mixed the oil and spices and then add the boiled water. Allow it to cool for a while during which time the sultanas will puff up slightly. Then add the vinegar and final 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix thoroughly.
- Place the cooked butternut pieces into the bowl with the vinegar/oil/spice mix. Mix until the butternut squash pieces are thoroughly coated.
- Pop the pine nuts under a grill if you haven't already toasted them. Watch them carefully; they toast very quickly.
- Place half the rocket onto plates and then add the coated butternut squash on top. Cut the goat cheese into small pieces and scatter over the top. Then scatter the toasted pine nuts and add the rest of the rocket leaves. Voila!
This salad, thanks to the butternut squash, is really adaptable. It's light enough to put on the table at a summer barbeque, but hearty enough with the addition of goat cheese to make a really lovely wintery salad, too. Plus, it's quick and easy—the only thing that might throw you is making sure the squash is perfectly cooked.
I adapted this from a recipe in Nigella Kitchen. I'm a great fan of her recipes because unlike many other celebrity chefs, her recipes include only the ingredients that are necessary for flavour. The recipes are also sufficiently low in faff that you can make them for your family after work and get a meal on the table at a reasonable hour. If you, too, love Nigella's cooking, I can highly recommend this book. The minestrone recipe it includes is by itself worth the cover price—my family loves to walk through the door on a winter's night and smell it bubbling away on the stove.
If you make this recipe or adapt it in any way, please let me know how it went via the comment form below. I'd love to try out your ideas, and I'm sure other readers would love to know how good you found it!