Monday, 13 June 2011

More use for Butternut Squash: Snigdha’s superfood salad

The wonderful restaurant chain Leon do an amazing superfood salad, featuring broccoli, alfalfa, peas, cucumber, avocado, quinoa, feta, fresh mint and parsley, toasted seeds and a pot of vinaigrette. It is fresh tasting, with zing, texture and flavour. It is also tremendously good for you.

Inspired by this dish, which has never left their menu since they first opened, I thought I would re-imagine some of the superfoods involved in this “party-in-a-dish”. Alfalfa sprouts are hard to come by and most of the time avocados are either too squishy or rock hard. So I wanted a recipe which can be easily made from things which are readily available but are healthy and tasty.

Apparently, those in the know tell us that foods which are orange or purple are good for you because they are high in natural antioxidants. So the super-tasty roasted butternut squash and sweet crunchy red onions will be doing you a power of good as well as teasing your taste buds. Needless to say the high veg count will give your digestive system a much needed workout!

I've already shown you how to roast butternut squash, so if you made the risotto I posted last, you probably have half a roasted squash waiting in the fridge to be used for this dish.

The pan-fried pancetta is there because him indoors is loath to eat too many wholly vegetarian meals. Add or leave in, as you feel.

(Serves 2)

Fresh mint leaves, 1 handful, finely chopped
Frozen or fresh peas, about 1 small mug full
Cherry tomatoes, about 16, halved
Feta cheese, about 100g, crumbled
Salad leaf, about 50g
Broccoli florets, half a head cut into florets
Quinoa, 3 tablespoons
Red onion, 1 medium sized, sliced finely
Cooked beetroot (optional), about half, finely sliced
Half a cooked Butternut squash, cut into bite sized cubes

Topping ingredients:
Pancetta (optional), about 75g cubetti de pancetta
Sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon
Pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon
Sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon

Dressing ingredients:
Olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons
1 Lemon - juiced

  1. Cook the butternut squash as per my instructions in my previous post:
  2. Then cook the quinoa. Since you are not making much, use the smallest pan you have. I used a milk pan. The rough amount of water you need is twice the amount of quinoa. So 6 tablespoons of cold water for the 3 tablespoons of quinoa. Put on the hob on a very low heat and cook for at least 12-15 mins. You will know it is cooked when a little curly fibre comes out of each seed. Don’t just leave the pan unattended – depending on how powerful your simmer setting is, you may need to add a little bit of water to prevent boiling dry. Stir around once cooked, take off the hob and allow to cool.
  3. Now cook your broccoli and peas. You can steam or boil them. I do them in the same pan, boiling the broccoli in plenty of water for 5 mins and then adding the peas for the final minute. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  4. If you are having the cubetti de pancetta, dry fry in a pan until thoroughly cooked.

  5. You will see the cubetti de pancetta are going brown around the edges. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen roll on a plate to absorb any excess fat.
  6. Now cook the seed topping. Heat a small pan until warm. Add the seeds. Cook for 2-3 mins, stirring as you go to achieve even colour. When some of the seeds start popping, turn the heat off straight away and transfer to a bowl.
  7. Whisk up the dressing with fork in a mug. Keep until needed.
  8. Now layer up the salad. Boiled veg first. This will be followed by salad leaf and crumbled feta. Now add the red onions and tomatoes. 

  9. Add the squash and herbs and Pancetta (if using).
  10. Re-whisk your dressing and drizzle all over.
  11. Now add the seed topping.

  12. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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