It is a long-running joke in my family that I don't like change.
I realised that it's not really the change itself that I dislike but all the (often minor) consequences of said change.
And so, one of the main reasons that I am reluctant to move is that we currently live just a few minutes walk from a very fine selection of local shops. We have a bakery, a delicatessen a butchers, an organic grocery shop and, finally, we have a brand new fruit and vegetable shop that opened a couple of weeks ago.
This new shop is a sight to behold. Hundreds of heirloom tomatoes, piled high. Fancy micro herbs which I dislike on principle but can't resist. Vegetables in every colour (purple carrots! pink potatoes!) and fruits that I've never heard of before. Whilst, inevitably, there is some produce from warmer climes, a lot of it is from relatively local farms and growers.
My first visit to our new shop inspired this autumnal salad made with the freekeh that was in my goodie bag from Food Blogger Connect '12. Freekeh is a whole grain made from green wheat which is roasted and dried. It is found a lot in middle eastern cuisine and, in common with similar grains, has plenty of health benefits. If you can't find freekeh, any grain (or even wild rice) would do in its place.
I roasted a ripe butternut squash and the last of this year's cherry tomatoes in a simple mixture of olive oil and seasonings. The vegetables are stirred through the freekeh when cooked along with a handful of fresh spinach and some feta. I've found that you don't really need a dressing as such with this salad; the tomatoes tend to burst a little and provide all that you could want although a squeeze of lemon juice doesn't go amiss. There's a lovely combination of flavours and textures with the nuttiness of the grain, the sweet softness of the squash and the salty feta. I ate this salad for lunch for a week and it is a meal in itself but it also would work nicely alongside chicken or lamb.
Butternut squash and freekeh salad
Yield: Serves 4
- 1 medium butternut squash, chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 250g (12 oz) cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup uncooked freekeh (or grain of your choice & apologies for completely forgetting to weigh it...)
- 2 handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped.
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Feta, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F (fan). Toss the butternut squash in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in an oven-proof baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes, add the cherry tomatoes and bake for another 15 minutes until everything is cooked.
- While the vegetables are baking, cook the freekeh according to the packet directions.
- When the freekeh and vegetables are cooked, toss together in a large bowl. Stir through the spinach and lemon juice to taste. Scatter with crumbled feta.
- Serve warm or cold.