Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad combines sweetly caramelised roasted butternut squash, cream and cooling goats cheese with fruity muscat grapes with a garlicky blackberry vinaigrette. A fully satisfying salad as a main meal or a delicious accompaniment as part of a larger meal.

Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

So the full title of this salad is Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad with Radicchio, Sorrel, Muscat Grapes and Garlicky Blackberry Vinaigrette which would definitely have been the longest recipe title on the blog. Every ingredient is so important in this salad. Oh, and pumpkin seeds. Sorry pumpkin seeds – you know this salad wouldn’t be the same without your good time crunch. Oh, and the rocket – but he’s used to his time in the sun so I don’t feel too guilty about that.

So this is the salad that I have been chowing down on for weeks. I am in the zone. It all started when I chanced upon this year’s bounteous crop of radicchio and sorrel at the farmer’s market. I am an absolute sucker for the bitterness of radicchio and the lemon twang of sorrel, they both make salads so interesting. It’s such a shame that the supermarkets don’t stock more salad leaves individually so unless we are able to get to a good farmer’s market or grocers we are subject to a boring mix of floppy bland leaves whose fate will only ever be to wither and die in a corner of our fridges.

Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

I think the reason this salad has worked so well for me these past few weeks is that it is so quick to put together, an absolute must since I rarely have more than ten minutes to make lunch and shovel it in whilst my eight-month old is amusing himself for a few moments smushing up his own lunch in his little fist and smearing it all over his face.

Since weaning Cole I have made it a thing to have several tubs of pre-roasted vegetables in my fridge so I can feed him quickly and efficiently but this has also proved invaluable for getting me back on track to a relatively balanced diet. As he’s eating breakfast or having a rare moment of independent play I will happily peel, de-seed, chop and roast a butternut squash or slam some quartered aubergines or courgettes in the oven. Preparing butternut squashes is one of my kitchen peeves but it doesn’t seem so bad if you are not doing it at the beginning of the long road to dinner.

I don’t know why I never thought to run my kitchen in such an organised fashion before, it has made tossing a lunch or dinner together so easy. I initially roast the veg without any salt (we’re in baby country now) or flavouring and then if I’m preparing my own dinner I can give them a 10 minute blast in the oven with all the spices and seasoning in the world and bob’s your bingo they are ready to go. I swear I think I have revolutionised meal prep in my kitchen forever more.

Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

So all the leaves are torn, the goats cheese crumbled, the squash roasted with some shawarma spices, the heady sweet muscat grapes chopped and the pumpkin seeds are scattered so all that is left to do is the dressing.

Now, here’s where you’re going to feel a bit swizzed with this recipe since the key ingredient of my dressing is homemade blackberry vinegar – a really easy ingredient to source if you spend your late summers bottling vinegars, keeping them under the bed for the rest of the year. However, if you don’t do this then you really should. No, what I meant to say is that if you don’t do this then you might need to do a bit of a search in some specialist online food shops or beg a bottle off your local preserver. If there’s a WI near you, someone will be bottling their own fruit vinegars – guaranteed – and you needn’t be too fussy as any fruity vinegar will do in a pinch. The joy of them is that they imbue such a sweetly rounded flavour to the finished dressing so that all you really need to do is whisk in a bit of Dijon, some seasoning, garlic and then your olive oil.

Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

The salad is absolutely lovely on its own and serves a good lunch for two, however if you wanted to use it as a side for a bit of grilled lamb or a roast chicken then you will be seriously pleased you did.

Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

Spiced Roast Squash and Goats Cheese Salad combines sweetly caramelised roasted butternut squash, cream and cooling goats cheese with fruity muscat grapes with a garlicky blackberry vinaigrette
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: British
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 440kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ small butternut squash peeled and cubed
  • ½ teaspoon shawarma spice blend
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 100 g goats cheese crumbled
  • large handful of radicchio roughly torn
  • small handful of sorrel roughly chopped
  • large handful of rocket
  • small handful muscat grapes halved
  • small handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons blackberry vinegar or any other fruity vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ garlic clove crushed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Toss the butternut squash pieces with the spices, olive oil and a bit of seasoning and roast in an oven pre-heated to 170°C for about 20-25 minutes. When ready remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature whilst you prepare the rest of the salad.
  • In a large salad bowl throw together the goats cheese, radicchio, sorrel, rocket and grapes and set aside whilst you prepare the dressing.
  • Whisk the blackberry vinegar with the mustard and plenty of salt and pepper until smooth then add the garlic clove.
  • Keep whisking the dressing then drizzle in the olive oil slowly until the dressing has completely emulsified.
  • Add the butternut squash to the rest of the salad and then pour the dressing over using a judicious hand.
  • Finally serve, scattering the pumpkin seeds over as you do.

Nutrition

Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 247mg | Potassium: 399mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 12570IU | Vitamin C: 23.8mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 2mg

SHOP THE RECIPE

For the shawarma seasoning blend I use Shawarma Seasoning. Middle East Spices. Their blends are fresh and flavourful and the shawarma spices work extremely well in this recipe.

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Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake is the perfect end to a meal. Use the best honey you can find for the deliciously complex and delicate taste.

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

Last week we were treated to a wonderful talk on bees and beekeeping at our WI meeting. I learnt basic bee stuff in Biology back in the day but I don’t remember them being this fascinating. They are like little machines, programmed to do their own special job within their ecosystem. If something breaks down in the chain then they intuitively follow through with a back-up plan, for instance if the queen dies then they just automatically make another by feeding one of the cells solely with royal jelly rather than honey and pollen. Nature really has it in for the honey bee though and they are constantly under threat by all sorts of diseases and mite infestations.

After the talk we were encouraged to try a selection of local honey. In the past I have never been the greatest honey monster, it always just seemed like sweet goop. However, this honey isn’t like your Sainsburys Basic brand. Instead it is so florally fragrant, you can almost see the wildflowers dancing about in the breeze. It was so interesting that the pots of honey brought from two different producers had completely different tastes, I never knew honey was this complex. The joy of good ingredients is that they can speak directly to you and after my second taste of the honey I immediately imagined this delicate cheesecake sweetened only by the honey bouquet.

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

London honey is considered a particular delicacy would you believe due to the vast variety of flowers that the bees have access to. It’s not cheap as the batches are made by independent beekeepers, but if you can possibly source local honey from your local farmers market it is totally worth it and the best thing is that you will also be supporting your neighbourhood honey bee. This honey doesn’t need to be relegated to merely toast or crumpets, although would certainly would pep up breakfast time no end, but try it in delicate dressings on your salad leaves, drizzled on top of a light vanilla ice cream or do what I’ve done with this Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake and create a bit of an event out of it.

If you don’t have a food processor, then you can easily prepare the digestive base by hand by placing the biscuits in a plastic food bag, tying the end off so the crumbs don’t escape and giving them a good bash with something heavy, like a rolling pin. It’s really very satisfying.

This cheesecake would be perfect at the end of a meal in lieu of a cheese course, it’s not entirely sweet or savoury but steals pleasurably from both camps.

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake

Goats Cheese, Honey and Thyme Cheesecake is the perfect end to a meal. Use the best honey you can find for the deliciously complex and delicate taste.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 24 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 401kcal

Ingredients

  • 175 g gluten-free digestives*
  • 75 g unsalted butter melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 375 g soft goats cheese
  • 150 ml british wildflower honey or whatever honey is local to you
  • 150 g sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • Extra honey to drizzle

Instructions

  • In a food processor whizz up the digestive biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs and then pour in the melted butter until completely combined.
  • Press into an 18cm loose-bottomed cake tin and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  • Then place the digestive base in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
  • While it’s baking, beat the goats cheese and the honey in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Add the sour cream and beat again until smooth.
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Add the thyme leaves, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and stir in until everything is well incorporated.
  • Pour the batter on top of the biscuit base and bake for 40 minutes until the top has set but still has a little wobble in the centre.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to come to room temperature in the tin. Then transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for at least 4 hours.
  • Remove from the tin and drizzle with honey before serving.

Notes

*If you are based in the UK then the best gluten-free digestive biscuits I can find are Prewetts Digestive Biscuits. Do track them down if you can, I'm a bit of a digestive biscuit fiend and these are a very close match to their gluten rich cousins. If you can't get hold of Prewett's then Nairn's Gluten Free Oats & Syrup Biscuit Breaks also work brilliantly in this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 401kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 935IU | Vitamin C: 0.6mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2.1mg