The vibrant autumnal palate is gently creeping into our kitchens once again – ripe black figs, hazelnuts, walnuts, wild mushrooms and copious shapes and varieties of bulbous squash. What joy to sample new seasonal treats but, as sunny days linger, cooking remains elegantly light.

Unable to resist a chunky, ocher wedge of butternut squash, the challenge was to grasp the opportunity to prepare a colourful but effortless dish to accompany dinner:

Roast Butternut Squash Salad

serves 4 - 6

  • 500g butternut squash
  • 1 red onion
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 100g baby (tender) spinach leaves
  • large handful of walnuts, toasted
  • extra dressing & seasoning

Preheat the oven to 200C

1. Removing the outer peel, chunk the squash into even sized pieces, likewise the onion. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes or until just cooked (al denté). Remove from the oven, drizzle with a little balsamic and leave to cool.

2. When the squash and onions are at room temperature, trim into bite sized pieces then toss through the spinach – it is best to roll up your sleeves and use your hands for this job, sprinkle over the walnuts and finally a little sea salt, freshly milled black pepper and a drizzle of vinaigrette dressing. Serve at room temperature.

Mustard is traditionally used to ‘emulsify’ a vinaigrette mixture meaning that it acts as a binding agent between the oil and vinegar, but for a quickie which will be immediately drizzled over a salad, this Quick and Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette will be sufficient.

Quick and Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

Whisk a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sea salt into a couple of tablespoons of olive oil then immediately sprinkle over salad.