When I first went to university, around 7 years ago now, I remember thinking that a butternut squash was a pretty exotic ingredient. For a start, it looked funny, had an almost impenetrable skin and would keep for what seemed like an age – perfect for the absent minded student. A butternut squash risotto was probably the most adventurous dish I ever cooked back then and I remember that trying to find the sage was a bit of a challenge.
I was a little surprised to find a butternut squash in the veg box this week – it must be an early bloomer. I wanted to roast it but still keep it nice and summery mixed with the grilled, salty cheese, spiked with red chilli and lots of herbs. The key here is to cut the beetroot into small dice and the squash into larger, bite size chunks to ensure they are both cooked at the same time. My halloumi could do with a little more grilling but I am very impatient.
You could use any mixture of soft herbs; I added a bit of mint to contrast the chilli heat, some chives and a little parsley for freshness. Make sure you have some sort of citrus on hand too for cutting through everything; I used lemon as I always have loads hanging around. A final flourish of sunflower seeds for a bit of crunch and it’s a goer.
Beetroot, Squash and Halloumi with Chilli-Herb Dressing
100g halloumi cheese, cubed
3 small beets, cut into small dice
1 small butternut squash, cut into large chunks
1 small handful sunflower seeds
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 handful chives, chopped
1 handful parsley, leaves picked and left whole
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bulb garlic
– Preheat the oven to 200C (425F, gas 7).
– Put the squash, beets and garlic in a roasting tin, splash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for around 45 minutes until the veggies are tender.
– Fry the halloumi in a dry pan until golden.
– Mix the lemon juice, herbs, chilli and mustard together with some pepper fine salt and mix well. When the veggies are done, squeeze a few cloves of the roasted garlic in too. I like to serve the rest of the cloves on the side but they are also delicious spread on toasted bread with some fruit and/or cheese.
– Put the veggies and halloumi on a serving dish, pour over the dressing and add the seeds.