Spelt, butternut squash, cranberry and basil salad

A speedy salad for time starved chefs

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I am not someone who buys many ready-made products but I do love a shortcut and I’m a huge fan of ready-cooked grains, including spelt and quinoa. I have lost count of the numbers of times I have wanted supper in a hurry and simply opened one of those packets, added some leftover chicken or salmon, a chopped avocado, a load of cherry tomatoes and a bag of rocket or spinach, squeezed over a lemon and had a great meal ready in minutes. You can cook the spelt from scratch and let it cool if you want to, but why bother? Oh, and I cheat with the squash, too!


Recipe taken from CHERISH by Anne Shooter, published by Headline Home 2018.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • If you are cooking the spelt from scratch, rinse the grains thoroughly in cold water and add to a pan with enough cold water to cover the grains. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again.
  • Put the butternut squash in a bowl with the garlic and red onion wedges, pour over the olive oil, season well and toss to coat. Tip into a roasting tray, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and roast for 40 minutes, or until the squash and onions are tender and browning at the edges.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then remove the garlic and set aside for the dressing.
  • Put the spelt in a large bowl with the other ingredients.
  • Mix well. Add the roasted vegetables and toss again.
  • Stir together the dressing ingredients and squeeze in the roasted garlic clove, discarding the skin. Season and mix well, making sure the garlic has been broken up and dispersed through the dressing
  • Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well, and serve immediately. Alternatively, you can cover and refrigerate the salad, without the dressing, for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature, and dress it before serving.

125g spelt (or use a 250g pouch of cooked spelt)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks (or 400g prepared squash)

1 garlic clove, unpeeled

2 red onions, cut into wedges

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of chilli flakes

100g dried cranberries

100g pistachios, shelled

a small bunch of basil leaves, picked off the stems but kept whole

a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

85g baby spinach leaves

150g mild goats’ cheese, crumbled (optional)

For the dressing

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp date syrup (silan) or honey

salt and freshly ground black pepper

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