I loved the whole BISH BASH BOSH concept that Jamie Oliver introduced us to in the late 90’s. He transcended the austere and seemingly grown up world of traditional TV chefs and authors, making cooking and creation more accessible for real 20 somethings like me. I loved it. Glass of wine in one hand, music on and a sense of relative chaos around the kitchen. There were sizable chunks of roughly chopped this and that, with glugs of olive oil and plenty of balsamic on the go. His recipes always turned out well and tasted great. Happy days.
Fast forward 15 years. Add pets, a husband and two children. I am now often clutching the Dyson Animal rather than the wine whilst preparing food for everyone. Some days there’s quite a bit of clutter and unintentional BISH BASH BOSHING. Other days I face culinary rejection from critics under the age of 6.
However, when there is calm and space of mind, I find complete peace in my time carefully preparing and creating good food. I have a stronger set of principles about what I eat these days. I actively look for ways to create good food that makes us feel nourished and whole. Knowing this means I enjoy the taste of delicious, well sourced food more than ever.
This recipe was adapted from my friend Natalie’s Ottolenghi cookbook. It features recipes from two bright chefs who produce beautiful mindful food.
Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing
This salad is stunning. It is vibrant, healthy and wholesome.
If you can, prepare your vegetables carefully and with love. Take time to taste the dressing. Leave the ingredients to settle a little before re-tasting and serving up. The vegetables will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days and the dressing for 3 or 4.
For a salad for 4 try this with:
- 2 aubergines cut into 1-2 cm slices
- 1 butternut squash cut into 1-2 cm slices
- olive oil to brush vegetables
- Lambs lettuce
- 20g toasted pine nuts
For enough dressing for above with leftovers:
- A small pinch of saffron strands
- 3 tbsp of hot water
- 180g greek yoghurt
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 – 3 tbsp lemon (go by taste)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
To prepare the salad:
- Infuse the saffron in the water for a few minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl with the other dressing ingredients plus a little salt. Whisk up till you get a smooth sauce, then chill.
- For the vegetables, brush with oil on both sides and lay on an oven tray, roasting at 220 degrees C for around 25 – 30 minutes till golden. Let them cool before serving.
- Assemble either as a large salad or as individual servings.
I have served this with grilled goats cheese and roasted beetroots too. It is a very robust dressing and has enough flavour to stand up well to cheese, fish or white meat.
I’ve had another super-sized vegetable to deal with. This towering butternut squash was at least 3 times the standard you see in the vegetable aisle.
So yes, there’s a medley of squash on the food board this week. The exact dishes depend on how creative I’m feeling as the week goes on. The starter for ten features the usual suspects of butternut squash soup, butternut squash risotto and roasted squash. I’d like to think the end plates feature a bit more excitement than these initial working titles.
First up though, the squash had it’s first outing yesterday, in the form of a big bold salad. We had friends over for lunch and enjoyed this as a side dish to the main event.
I am leaving out the exacting measures on this recipe. There’s no way to go wrong, you won’t break it if you dial up certain flavours or pare down depending on your preference. Just aim for a variety of textures on your leaves and make sure you keep tasting the dressing till it’s spot on.
I used a simple balsamic dressing for this one. I think you should always buy the best balsamic you can – or just not bother. The cheap stuff tastes tart and too vinegary, a negative input rather than a sweet and rounded addition to the salad.
For the salad I used:
- A butternut squash – or in this case around a third of the squash
- A big sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
- Lots of fresh rosemary
- Lambs lettuce
- Crispy gem lettuce chopped quite finely (just adding for extra crunch)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh mint
- Crumbled feta
- Salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to around 150 degrees Celsius
- Firstly chop the butternut up into cubes and lay in single layer on a roasting tin, sprinkle over the rosemary and a little even drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of seasoning.
- Whilst cooking make a simple dressing with a 3:1 ratio of oil to balsamic. Add a little dijon mustard and some seasoning. Keep tasting and tweak the oil / balsamic to get it exactly as you like. My dressing was quite thick and rather sweet in taste. It only needed to be used sparingly to add plenty of flavour to the leaves.
- Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes then add the pumpkin seeds, leaving in the oven for another 15 minutes until the squash is sticky and soft and starting to brown a little. The rosemary should snap easily when you pick it up. By this point the smell will be so inviting. It’s worth making just to welcome people in to your home.
- Leave the squash to cool and dress the salad. Always remember to dress the leaves not the whole assembled salad. I always get my hands in to make sure there is an even covering. Don’t drown the leaves, your plate shouldn’t be greasy and soggy.
- Assemble the salad in a clean bowl scraping in any sticky crunchy bits from the roasting tin.
- You can then crumble over some feta and mint or leave just as it stands. If I were eating this on my own I would be just as happy without the dressing and feta.. But food is about the audience as much as the cook. I wanted to make this a massive crowd pleaser.
There was a little bit left which I kept in the fridge and enjoyed with fresh leaves for lunch today. It would have tasted pretty good with some brown or wild rice too.
Hope you enjoy this or something similar soon.