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Hugh Fearnley-whittingstall's (part 1) - Spelt salad with squash and fennel, Baked ricotta with sun-blushed tomatoes and olives

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"I have to admit that when making my own commitment to cook and eat more veg, and indeed to write this book. It was a little hard to shake off the meat lover's niggling prejudices," says Hugh. "The cookery I have embraced here is more democratic and the recipes are often a harmonious blend of several different vegetables." Rich in vitamin C, the fennel adds a sweetness to this salad, while Hugh's summer variation (see right) is suitable for vegans.”

Description: Hugh Fearnley-whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-whittingstall


Spelt salad with squash and fennel

This substantial grainy salad makes a lovely autumn/winter lunch or supper. By all means replace the fennel with chunks of leek, or red onion wedges or halved shallots. Indeed you can improvise a spelt salad along these lines for all seasons, and the first baby veg of summer are a great opportunity to play with this idea.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 4

Easy/prepare ahead

Description: Spelt salad with squash and fennel

Spelt salad with squash and fennel

1 smallish butternut squash (about 600g)

4-5tbsp olive oil

2-3 fennel bulbs, trimmed (any feathery fronds chopped and reserved)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

50g walnuts

200g pearled spelt (or pearl barley), rinsed

Juice of 1/2 lemon

20g Parmesan, hard goats' cheese or other well-flavored hard cheese, grated, plus extra to serve

A small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C, 170 C fan, 375 F, gas 5. Peel, halve and deseed the squash, then cut into 1.5cm chunks and scatter in a large roasting tin. Trickle over 2tbsp of the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss so that the squash is well coated and put into the oven to roast. Meanwhile, cut the fennel lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges.
  2. After 15 minutes, add the fennel and garlic to the roasting tin and turn with the squash and another tbsp of olive oil. Roast for a further 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize around the edges. Then scatter over the walnuts and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. By the end, the veg should be tender and caramelized, and the walnuts lightly toasted and fragrant. If you want to serve this as a cold salad, let the veg cool completely; if you're serving it warm, the veg can go into the spelt straight from the oven.
  3. While the veg are roasting, cook the spelt (or barley) in plenty of well-salted boiling water until tender, but still with just a bit of nutty bite: spelt should take about 20 minutes (allow a bit longer for barley). Drain well and leave to cool a little (or completely, if you're assembling this in advance as a cold salad). Toss with the roasted veg, walnuts and any oil from the roasting tin, the rest of the olive oil, the lemon juice, cheese, parsley and any fennel fronds. Taste and season with salt and pepper Shave over some more cheese and serve warm or cold.

Variation

Summer spelt salad Cook 200g pearled spelt or pearl barley (as above), drain and add 2tbsp rapeseed or olive oil and the grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, season with salt and pepper and leave to cool. When cold, toss with about 200g blanched and cooled baby veg, which could include baby broad beans, baby carrots and peas. Add about 300g cubed, cold, cooked new potatoes and a shredded handful of mint. Taste and add more oil, lemon juice, salt and/or pepper as needed. I like to finish this with a scattering of spring onions, gently fried in olive oil for a couple of minutes so they're tender and sweet.

Baked ricotta with sun-blushed tomatoes and olives

The ricotta cheese in this delicious recipe contains calcium for healthy bones.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Easy/prepare ahead

Description: Baked ricotta with sun-blushed tomatoes and olives

Baked ricotta with sun-blushed tomatoes and olives

500g (1lb 2oz) ricotta

2 large free-range eggs, beaten

280g jar sun-blushed tomatoes, drained and chopped

175g (6oz) pitted black olives, sliced handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Sourdough toast, chicory leaves and olive oil, to serve

You will need

6 ramekins

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C, 160 C fan, 350 F, gas 4. Mix the ricotta with the eggs, tomatoes, olives and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide the cheese mixture between the ramekins and cook in the oven for 20 minutes, until it has slightly souffléd and is golden brown on top. Serve with the sourdough toast and chicory leaves, drizzled with olive oil.
Per serving: 260 calories, 20g fat (7.5g saturated), 8g carbohydrate
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