First of all, thank you for the lovely comments on yesterday's post. It means so much to have such support and faith from you all! I’m so excited about this next chapter - I'm not sure what will happen but that's all part of the adventure and my evolution, and I hope you'll stick around to see what happens next. I'm proud of everything I've managed to achieve over the years, and that was with a full time job and loads of other distractions. I wonder what will happen now....now that I'm giving it 110%?! I can't wait to find out! :)
I'm feeling very hungry this Thursday. I've made so many yummy things this last week, including:
|Pear and banana loaf|
|Sourdough bread (served with Sas's marmalade)|
|Dairy free sticky date pudding and caramel sauce...surprisingly good!|
And that's just the stuff I took pictures of! There was also a thai red vegetable curry with roasted cashews which Tom raved about for days; a spinach and lentil bolognese pie; a braise of fennel, leeks and artichokes; gnocchi with basil cashew pesto; and spicy lentil tacos. I'm certainly not going hungry, am I?! :)
But the winner of the week has to go to this little baby:
I give you... roast butternut squash, artichoke, fennel and rocket salad. Exquisite. You can thank me later!
Apart from the cold and the dark, I actually don't mind winter - snow is still such a novelty for me, and I think the UK is actually quite beautiful in the winter, when you get a clear day with a bit of sunshine. And I love winter food. But I do miss my salads and sometimes I just want something light, not a heavy stew or casserole. Until recently I didn't appreciate how many lovely seasonal winter vegetables can make a half decent salad.
After a rather full on Yogalates session where I made the mistake of eating a bit too much pear and banana loaf before it (cue stomach ache halfway through!) I really wasn't up for anything massive for dinner, and this hit the spot perfectly. We're still going dairy free and normally I would have smothered a salad like this in feta or goat's cheese - didn't miss it at all. I find that toasting some nuts and putting them on top gives a richness and unctuousness to the salad which means you don't need anything else. Try it and see!
Roast butternut squash, artichoke, fennel and rocket salad
Serves 2 generously, with bits and pieces left over
First of all, you'll need:
1 large butternut squash, or pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
4 shallots or small onions, peeled and cut in half
2 or 3 bay leaves, or any other herbs you like (rosemary, sage, etc)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil or cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Place butternut squash chunks and shallot pieces on a non stick tray, drizzle olive oil over the top (or you could use cooking spray if you don't want to use oil). Season with salt and pepper, and add the bay leaves (crush them slightly in your hand first). Place in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the squash and shallots are cooked and brown. Set aside.
Then you'll need:
1 x 390g can artichoke hearts in water, drained
Olive oil or cooking spray
Cut the artichoke hearts in half. Coat them lightly in plain flour.
Heat a non stick fry pan to medium-high. Add a little olive oil or cooking spray. When hot, add artichoke pieces and cook until browned all over. Drain on paper towels if need be. Keep warm.
As an aside, one of my favourite things in the world is an artichoke omelette. I got the idea from Tessa Kiros' Twelve. Cook the artichokes this way and then use as an omelette filling. You don't need anything else in the omelette. So good.
Finally, to assemble the salad, you'll need:
1 bulb fennel, top removed and then sliced thinly
1 small bag rocket
Handful of walnuts and pine nuts, toasted lightly in a non stick pan
Juice of 1 lemon (or an orange if you want to be different, it goes well with fennel)
Freshly ground black pepper
Arrange the rocket on two plates. Place chunks of butternut squash, shallot and artichoke pieces on top. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Scatter some toasted nuts on top and finally a grinding of black pepper.
You won't need to use all the roast butternut squash - there will be some leftover for more salads, or to go on top of pizzas. It's a good habit to get into, to roast a bit more than you need for one meal, then you have more to use later!
I just loved this salad. I love fennel, it's just so fresh and zingy. Combine that earthy roast vegetables, the floral sweetness of the artichokes, and the peppery rocket....it's a gorgeous combination that I think would work all year round!
And when I think of how easy this is to make, it makes me wonder why the vegan and vegetarian options you get in pubs and the like are usually always the same old risotto, lasagne and veggie burgers. I think most of us would love something like this! What do you think?
And if you have any requests for upcoming Hungry Thursdays, please let me know! :)