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Ate, Cook, Recipe

A Recipe For Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, With Jewelled Quinoa & Tahini Dressing.

Vegan Butternut Squash Salad

 

One of my many mottos in life is to never arrive empty handed. Whether it be flowers, wine or some kind of baked treat, I like to arrive places having made an effort. A psychologist would probably say it had something to do with a desire to be liked, but I can tell you quite definitely that isn’t high on my list of essentials. I just really like to cook.

This weekend over on Instagram I posted an image of my addition to a ‘low-key’ BBQ. The first thing you should know about me is that ‘low-key’ doesn’t really wash with me. The story resulted in so many messages asking for the recipe I decided to apply some quantities to it and write it up here. The recipe is a great vegan or vegetarian option for a BBQ and can be made ahead, making things much easier. Enjoy.

Ingredients

For the quinoa
300g quinoa (soaked in cold water overnight)
Vegetable stockpot or cube

For the dressing
4 tablespoons tahini 
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Salt & pepper
Juice of half a lemon

For the salad
1 butternut squash
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pomegranate seeds
1 small tin of sweetcorn
80g kale – tough stalks removed

 

Cooking the perfect quinoa:

Soak your quinoa (in a jug to make it easy to pour into a sieve later) in cold water overnight.

Before using it, pour out the water and rinse it thoroughly under the cold tap. In a small pan mix freshly boiled water with a vegetable stock cube/pot, add the quinoa with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 10-12 minutes. Soaking the quinoa reduces the cooking time needed so keep checking on it, it should be unravelling into spirals but still have some bite when you taste it, it shouldn’t be mushy.

When it’s done, tip out of the water and then leave in the pan, with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper draped over the top before placing the lid on. Pop to one side to cool.

For the salad:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (175 fan).

Slice your butternut squash into 1cm rounds, removing the seeds as you get to the bulbous part. Slice each in half to make half moons, leaving the skin on. When the rounds are thin this easily cooks and adds some texture.

In a bowl toss them with olive oil and seasoning before spreading out on a baking tray. Spread them out as much as possible to allow them to roast. Pop in the Center of the oven and roast for twenty minutes. In the bowl you used to toss the squash add the kale and do exactly the same, lightly coating the kale in any remaining olive oil and seasoning, strewn about the roasting tray with the squash and return to the oven for five minutes.

Watch carefully as the kale can so easily burn, you want it crispy, almost like a crisp or seaweed. When it’s ready remove and leave to cool.

Tip the drained tin of sweetcorn into a preheated griddle pan. You shouldn’t need any oil. You want the corn to begin to blacken and Char at the edges, so keep shuffling around in the pan before leaving to one side when done.

For the dressing:

Add the tahini, crushed garlic, seasoning, oil, juice of a lemon and water to a bowl and mix together. Add more water and mix thoroughly until your dressing is pourable. If it looks like it’s curdled just add more water and keep mixing.

To serve fork through the quinoa and pile onto your serving plate, strew with squash, kale, and charred sweetcorn before drizzling the dressing over liberally. Finally add the pomegranate seeds and dig in.

 

Vegan Butternut Squash Salad

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Ate, Christmas, Made, Recipe

A Last Minute Gift. Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti.

Last year I made a pact with myself to start making more of the presents I was giving in an attempt to reduce the amount of things I bought at Christmas. It’s not that I don’t love the huge array of things out there to buy, but that it just feels so much more satisfying to give someone something you’ve had a part in creating. It doesn’t need to be something grand or all that elaborate, I think it’s just nice for it to be something you spent time on.

 

Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

Each year I make large batches of chutney to include with my friend’s and family’s Christmas presents. I try and do this a few months in advance to a) get it out of the way, b) make use of particular fruit being in plentiful supply and c) allow the flavours to mellow. As Christmas starts to draw closer and the presents start to be given I like to add some kind of baked good in there too.

Through trial and error over the year I’ve settled on biscotti being the perfect gift. Some years I’m in the mood for something citrusy and others for something involving a little more chocolate. (Next year’s is going to be chocolate orange, I’ve already decided.)

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

It keeps perfectly well for days and when combined with a tin of tea leaves, a bag of freshly roasted coffee or a bottle of something is the perfect last minute gift for someone. No matter how hard we try there’s always someone we didn’t think we’d see but now seemingly will or maybe even someone who got you a present you entirely weren’t expecting. This is where the biscotti and the coffee come in.

This year I played around with adding herbs to the mix before finally settling on Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio. When you’re done simply add a good handful to a bag, tie up with string and add a label.

 

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

 

These little brown paper bags are from IKEA and perfectly match the wrapping paper I went with this year. If you’re into your wrapping you can take a closer look at that here.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti

150g plain flour

125g caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 2 lemons

100g dried apricots

150g unshelled (and unsalted) pistachios

A handful of thyme sprigs

2 eggs

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan.

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. Once this is done set it to one side and roughly chop the apricots and pistachios – you want to be able to see the colours from both as you slice the biscotti. Pick the leaves from the sprig of thyme and add them to your flour mixture and stir in the apricots and pistachios.

In a separate bowl lightly beat eggs and milk together before adding to the dry mix. Fork through until it starts to clump together before getting your hands in and bringing together into a dough. If it feels a little too sticky add a fraction more flour.

Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and need briefly to make sure all of your fruit and nuts are combined. Split the dough into two equal balls, roll into a fat sausage and place each on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Once it’s on the sheet you can perfect the shaping, don’t worry. You’re looking for them both to be around 20cm long and 6cm or so wide. The mixture should be playable so shape as you will.

Bake the biscotti in the oven for 25-30 minutes. In this time you’ll see it will have risen and spread out slightly, along with taking on a soft golden colour.

Remove from the oven and careful transfer the loaf to a chopping board by just picking up the greaseproof paper. With a serrated bread knife cut the loaf diagonally into 1cm thick slices.

When both loaves are slices, lay the pieces out flat on the baking trays and return to the oven. As you do turn the temperate down to 130 degrees fan and bake for 10 minutes before flipping the biscotti over and baking for a further 5 minutes.

When you take the biscotti out of the oven it should be firm and crisp but when pressed still retain a slight toast-like texture when pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool down before packaging up the biscotti in little bags or glass jars.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

 

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