In our last recipe, New England Shrimp Rolls, I mentioned my honeymoon trip around New England. A fall delight! Another joy of the autumn/fall season is gourds, specifically pumpkins and squashes. Some of the smaller varieties can be pretty ugly looking things, but they are nonetheless hearty, delicious vegetables that can soak up flavour and can easily take centre-stage in any dinner.
While travelling through Connecticut and up to Vermont in October, pumpkins were everywhere. Also maple syrup. You couldn’t go into any store without seeing jugs of the stuff. I’m not complaining – it’s amazing. Pour it all over everything, sweet and savoury! This recipe combines the two.
In this simple autumn salad, we use a base of robust rocket and spinach, and layer on the equally earthy flavours of warm squash, sliced apple and beetroot. On top of that is a pop of saltiness from feta and an extra savoury bite and crunchy texture from roasted seeds. To balance it all out is a thick, sweet (but not too sweet) dressing made from maple syrup, olive oil, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. This is filling enough for a dinner by itself, or serve a half portion as a lunch or starter.
Eating pumpkins tend to be difficult to get in the UK, except in bigger supermarkets and farm shops for a very short period in October. This recipe uses the more readily available butternut squash. Feel free to use other squashes or pumpkins if you can get them – just don’t use the big carving pumpkins. Use pure maple syrup if you can get it, but maple-flavour syrup or even honey is fine.
Autumn Salad with Maple Dressing
- 1 Butternut Squash medium
- 1 pack Beetroot ready cooked
- 60 g Rocket
- 100 g Spinach
- 2 Apples
- 200 g Feta
- 50 g Mixed Seeds roasted
- 3 tbsp Maple Syrup
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Simply add all ingredients to a jug or small bowl and whisk until emulsified. Leftovers should keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
- Split the butternut squash into two, length ways, and place on a baking tray with the cut-side facing down. Roast in a pre-heated (200°c) oven for around 45 minutes, or until the flesh is cooked through and the skin is blistered.
- Allow the squash to cool a little then slice into half-rounds, or into chunks if you prefer.
- Place a mixture of rocket and spinach leaves at the bottom of four bowls or deep plates. On top, arrange sliced apple, sliced cooked beetroot and the warm butternut squash. Then, crumble the feta and sprinkle the seeds. Drizzle as much dressing as you like. Serve while the squash is still warm.