Recipe: Warm Butternut Squash & Beetroot Salad



For the month of December, I am focusing on recipes that are ideal for Christmas time. This warm butternut squash and beetroot salad is an ideal Christmas day starter even for any non-vegetarians.

Food is such a crazy big part of many people's Christmas day, but a food coma doesn't have to be given. I don't like heavy food at the best of time, but I really don't like heavy starters before a big main course. For me, the purpose of a starter isn't to fill me up, but rather it's for taste and to whet my appetite for the main course. The last thing I want is a heavy starter that is hard to digest and will sit in my tummy while I pile more food in on top of it (that doesn't make for a pleasant afternoon at all).

I will be having a plant based main course this Christmas day, but for anyone having the traditional turkey and ham dinner, main courses don't get more filling than that. This starter is a really good option to allow you to enjoy your main course and not fall into a food coma for the afternoon. Plus you have the added bonus of getting some raw greens into your Christmas dinner. Butternut squash is a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre. The beetroot is a good source of folate (a B vitamin) and manganese, not to mention pumpkin seeds which provide protein as well as several minerals.

This recipe serves 6 starter portions.

Ingredients:

1 Butternut squash

2 beetroots

3 large handfuls of rocket

1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds

1 teaspoon of cumin

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

Method:

1. If using uncooked beetroot, top and tail the beetroot and quarter them. Place in a steamer for 40 minutes. Once cooked peel and slice thinly using a knife or a mandolin. If using cooked beetroot, skip straight to the slicing stage.

2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190 degrees celsius. Peel and chop the butternut squash into bite size cubes. Toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of cumin and a pinch of salt. Place in the oven to roast for 30 minutes.

3. While the butternut squash is cooking, prepare the dressing by adding 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the apple cider vinegar, the lemon juice, garlic, a pinch of salt and black pepper to a bowl and whisking well.

4. Toast the pumpkin seeds for a few minutes in a dry pan.

5. To assemble the salad, place the rocket in a bowl and top with the warm butternut squash, the sliced beetroot and pour over the dressing and top with the toasted pumpkin seeds.


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