Sunday, December 6, 2009

Autumn Salad of Rocket (arugula) and Butternut

Yes, it is butternut again but it is autumn here, they are in season and I love them and this is a really great salad. This salad works on its own for lunch, as a starter or for a meal serve it with some unadorned meat such as really good sausages or lamb cutlets.

It involves roasting the butternut, which takes about an hour but this can be done in advance if you wish-even well in advance but make sure the butternut is at room temperature before you assemble the salad.

If you have trouble peeling the butternut I find the best approach is to cut it crosswise into thickish slices- about 5-8cm and then peel the slices.

The quantities here for the salad a very flexible. I reckon half a butternut is enough for 2 or 4 as a starter. Likewise with the rocket- 100 grams or 3 or 4 good handfuls should do. Basically you will figure out how much you eat and what looks good on the plate.

This is going to take over an hour to prepare -

Half a butternut, peeled and cut into dices of no more than 5 cms
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
olive oil
3 tblspns of pine nuts toasted.
100 grams of rocket (arugula)
chilli flakes
1 shallot, finely sliced

2 tblspns olive oil
1 tspns raspberry vinegar
1 clove of crushed garlic
1 tspns clear honey
S & P

Heat your oven to 180C 375 F Gas 5

Put the butternut and chopped garlic into a roasting tin, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over and stir the vegetables around.
Into the oven for about an hour. I think it is a good idea to remove the tin from the oven, after about half an hour, to turn stir the vegetables.

While the butternut is cooking make your dressing. Garlic and vinegar into a bowl, slowly add the olive oil while you whisk the mixture. Stir in the honey and add the salt and pepper.

Toast the pine nuts with a few good pinches of the chilli flakes. Again- you know how hot you like it but I suggest you start with about 3 pinches and see how you go. Put a small saucepan onto a medium heat- add the pinenuts and chilli and stir about with a wooden spoon.
You can check the taste of the nuts and add more chilli if you wish. Keep moving the nuts around in the pan until they become golden.

Set aside.

Put the finely slice shallot into a bowl which is big enough to mix your salad in and coat with half the dressing. Leave until you are ready to make your salad. Leaving the shallot in an oil and vinegar mix has the effect of softening the shallot and reducing any strong "oniony" flavour.

When you are ready to serve the salad- it is the rocket into the bowl on top of the shallots, add the rest of the dressing and stir about to coat the leaves. Add the butternut- it doesn't really matter if it is still warm but not straight from the oven- and toss gently.
Place onto plates and scatter the pine nuts over.