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  • Recipe Room  »  Spelt salad with squash and fennel



    • 1 smallish butternut squash (about 600g)
    • 4–5 tablespoons 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 ½ lemon
    • 20g Parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or other well-flavoured hard cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
    • A small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


    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.

    SERVES 4


    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Peel, halve and deseed the squash, then cut into 1.5cm chunks and scatter in a large roasting tin.
    2. Trickle over 2 tablespoons 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.
    3. Meanwhile, cut the fennel lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges.
    4. After 15 minutes, add the fennel and garlic to the roasting tin and turn with the squash and another tablespoon of olive oil.
    5. Roast for a further 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelise around the edges.Then scatter over the walnuts and cook for another 8–10 minutes.
    6. By the end, the veg should be tender and caramelised, and the walnuts lightly toasted and fragrant.
    7. 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.
    8. 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).
    9. Drain well and leave to cool a little (or completely, if you’re assembling this in advance as a cold salad).
    10. 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.


    Summer spelt salad

    Cook 200g pearled spelt or pearl barley (as above), drain and add 2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil and the grated zest and juice of ½ 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.


    This recipe was provided to Foodwise from the book “River Cottage Veg Everyday” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and photography by Simon Wheeler, published by Bloomsbury rrp $55. 

    Tips and Tricks

    • To avoid wastage, cook and puree butternut squash (pumpkin) and store in an air tight container in the freezer. It can then be defrosted for use at a later date.

    • Keep parsley in a glass of water and wrapped in a plastic bag in your fridge. Parsley should last a week or so stored in this way. Remember to change the water regularly to prevent mould and decay.

    • Because of their high oil content, nuts may easily go rancid if not properly stored. Walnuts will last 6 months in the pantry in a tightly closed container, but are better stored in the fridge where they will last at least a year.

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