The game isn’t played on paper.

Some things just don’t look right on paper.  Some partnerships shouldn’t work, but they do.  Unlikely pairings and new combinations keep cooking interesting.  In life, however, we can find surprises in the people we meet.

Take my wife.  Heehee!  Joking aside, we are so different.  So different that it’s scary sometimes.  My spontaneity balanced by her need to plan ahead.  My love of the summer heat.  Her joy in the cosiness of winter.  My love of dark chocolate and her taste for white chocolate.  It’s all there.  The differences stack up whenever I think about our personalities and tastes.  Of course, balance is everything and many a sentimental word has been written about the complimentary nature of opposites.

You’ll be glad to hear that I’m not too sentimental and that my train of thought is actually chugging towards nothing soppier than a salad dressing.

When I buy a butternut squash, I always plan two dishes.  One of the dishes I’d decided to make recently was a roasted butternut squash and rocket salad.  For someone who insists they aren’t into salad, I sure am making enough of them.  This is one that I tried before, but I made a dressing with far too much vinegar and I wasn’t happy with it.  This recipe is my attempt to right that earlier wrong.  You didn’t taste it, but believe me, I need to make things right and share the outcome with you.

Butternut squash adds beautiful colour to dishes and though some criticise it for being on the bland side, I think it lends itself well to dishes with bigger flavours.  This salad is so easy to make.  You may not have thought to pair squash with rocket, but in fact, my dressing for the salad is what I find most unusual.  It’s an odd combination of ingredients.  It just doesn’t look right on paper; on screen.  It shouldn’t work, but it does.

Roasted butternut squash & rocket salad 

Half of a butternut squash (cubed)

70g rocket (arugula)

1 sweet pointed pepper (sliced)

1 red onion (quartered)

1 tspoon dried chilli flakes

sea salt

black pepper

(For the dressing)

3 tblspoons olive oil

2 tblspoons cider vinegar

1 tblspoon light soy sauce

1 tblspoon balsamic cream (or balsamic vinegar)

To roast the squash.  Spread it out on a baking tray with the onion and drizzle olive oil over.  Sprinkle plenty of sea salt on and add the chilli flakes and toss to coat the cubes.  Roast in the centre of the oven on the highest heat until the squash is beginning to colour and soften.  This may be about fifteen minutes, but keep checking on it and tossing the squash to ensure even cooking.  The squash should maintain its shape.  We don’t want it to turn to mush.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.  Put all the ingredients in a small bowl stir continuously until emulsified.  Adjust to taste.  It shouldn’t be too sharp.  When the squash is out of the oven and has cooled slightly, add to the rocket with the sweet pepper and toss.  Dress the salad, add more seasoning to taste and toss gently before serving.  Try not to break the cubes of squash when you are mixing the salad leaves.  A nice touch would be to serve this with some toasted pine nuts thrown in.  It works!

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2 thoughts on “The game isn’t played on paper.

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