Tuesday, July 10

Squash, Puy & Oven Dried Tomato Salad, Perroche & Basil Vinaigrette

British tomatoes should be at their best soon - I say this, but just like with Wimbledon, the weather may delay play a little. Oven drying tomatoes intensifies the flavour of even the most insipid of specimens, especially if you judiciously season them with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to accentuate the sweetness. 

The eagle eyed among you will spot that lentils were on my last blogpost. Any leftover pulses are a great way to beef up a salad in a vegetarian way. Try chickpeas, kidney beans, bulgar wheat etc - you don't need a lot but a few morsels hidden in the leaves makes a welcome find. I fed three with this recipe along with some flatbreads to mop up the dressing.

1 small butternut squash
6 large vine tomatoes - quartered 
Rocket - 1 handful
Cooked puy lentils - 1 large handful
Basil leaves - 1 handful
Sugar, Salt, Black pepper
Garlic - 1 small clove peeled and crushed
Cider or red wine vinegar - 1 tbsp
Perroche or another fresh sheep or goats cheese - 150g
Extra virgin Olive Oil - 100ml

Slice enough off the bottom of the squash so you reach the seeds. Scrape out with a spoon and then slice the squash into 1cm discs leaving the skin on. Lightly oil and season and set aside. Place the quartered tomatoes on a baking tray and season with the salt, pepper and a few tsps of sugar. Bake for 2 hours at 150c until wrinkly but still with some juice in them. Bake the squash along with the tomatoes for the last hour or so of the cooking time.

Warm the lentils in the microwave or on the stove. Crush the garlic, 4 tbsp of olive oil and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar until you have a pulpy mush. Season with more salt, pepper and the vinegar until you have a tasty balanced dressing (it won't emulsify so don't try!). On a large plate sprinkle some rocket, top with squash, more rocket, tomatoes, lentils and crumbled perroche. Sprinkle with more lentils then drizzle with the basil vinaigrette.

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