ooking vegetables can be a thrifty way to get creative in the kitchen– particularly if shopping at your local market. When it comes to vegetables, farmers’ markets can be a cheaper option than the plastic-wrapped alternatives in larger retailers, and you can buy more interesting varieties, often straight from the grower. So whatever kind of pumpkin or squash you find, get experimenting with this fabulously easy and colourful recipe.
Roasted squash and farro salad with basil oil
Garlicky, chilli-flecked squash with grains and herbs – this is as delicious as it is nutritious. You will need two large baking trays – an investment you will never regret.
Prep 20 min
Cook 40 min
700g butternut, acorn or delicata squash
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 pinch dried chilli
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large red onions
1 medium punnet cherry tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
40g blanched hazelnuts
60g grana padano
For the basil oil
½ garlic clove
2 bunches basil, leaves picked
1-2 tbsp white wine vinegar
7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, then cut into slices 15-20mm thick, leaving the skin on. Mix the garlic, chilli, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a jar.
Top, tail and peel the onions, and cut each into eight wedges. Put into a large bowl with the tomatoes and toss the lot in the balsamic mix. Spread over two large baking trays, season generously with salt and pepper, then roast for about half an hour, until the vegetables are looking caramelised and delicious.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the farro for 20-30 minutes, (cooking times vary according to brand) until tender and plumped up. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool, then transfer to a salad bowl or platter.
Once the squash and tomatoes are out of the oven and cooling, spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and pop in the oven for four to five minutes until just golden, then remove and leave to leaveset aside to cool.
Next, make the basil oil. In a pestle and mortar or a small food processor, crush the garlic with a big pinch of salt, then start adding the basil leaves, either bashing or whizzing them until fine. Stir in the vinegar, then add the oil in a steady stream until you have a bright green dressing. Season, then stir two-thirds of the dressing through the farro, keeping the rest to drizzle over later.
Gently fold the squash and onion through the farro, then lightly crush the hazelnuts and sprinkle them over. Shave the cheese over everything, add a little extra dressing, if you want, then serve.
And for the rest of the week
If you want to save the planet with what you eat, look for Hodmedods online – a brilliant producer of British-grown grains and pulses, which would work brilliantly in this recipe. And don’t waste those hazelnuts – toast the leftovers and grind them with chocolate and coffee to make a delicious espresso cake.