Squash, Rocket and Goats Cheese Salad
I’ve always loved a good barbecue. Growing up, they were a big event in our house. We didn’t have too many of them and so when we did, we went all out! Being Irish, the most important part of the barbecue was always the meat. Our family of 4 would easily go through a pound of sausages, 4 burgers, a rack of ribs and a kilo of chicken wings – there was no stopping us. Add to that a couple of crusty baguettes and my Mother’s insistence on numerous bowls of salad and you can imagine the spread. Although I still carry that obsession for meat cooked on the barbecue, I now place equal importance on the accompanying salads, they round out the meal and can add greatly to the flavour and texture of the food being devoured.
We had our first barbecue of the year at the beginning of May, the weather wasn’t great but as soon as there is a hint of sun I get the charcoal out to take full advantage. While watching the usual cuts of meat char and sizzle on the grill, I thought it such a shame that I don’t give vegetables the same treatment. I ran into the house and quickly sliced some aubergine and courgette and placed them on the grill with a couple of red peppers. They were delicious, I was inspired! That night I bought Francis Mallmann’s Seven Fires book. Many of the recipes stood out and this is my adaption of my favourite. You can do as Francis does and use a pumpkin instead of the butternut squash and you can use whatever soft goat’s cheese takes your fancy but the St. Tola Ash Log is my favourite here.
1 Butternut Squash
150g Soft Goats Cheese
100ml Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
50ml Red Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp chopped Mint
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. After lighting the barbecue and letting the flames die down, place the Butternut Squash directly on the coals and allow to cook for 1 hour, turning once halfway through. Alternatively place the squash into a 200 degree pre-heated oven and cook for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile combine the oil, vinegar and mint and whisk to emulsify. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. When the squash is cooked, remove form the barbecue (or oven) and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice in half length ways and, with a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds.
4. Divide the rocket leaves between two serving bowls. Scoop out teaspoon sized pieces of the squash and place on top of the rocket leaves in each bowl. Season the salad generously.
5. Whisk the dressing again if required and, using a spoon, drizzle over the rocket and squash. Dot pieces of the soft goats cheese on top and serve immediately.