Aubergine, goat’s cheese & squash salad

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Despite rather cloudy, overcast days, the sun has been making a consistent appearance in the evenings of late providing a great opportunity for some al fresco evening dining!  I’ve been experimenting with a few different salads to have on their own or as an accompaniment to a barbecue.  Here is the recipe for one that passed the Lentil and Papa Lentil test (after a few goes at the dressing!).

Brown, green or puy lentils are usually best for salads as they retain their shape and texture after cooking.  However, I had run out of all of the above and only had split-red left in the cupboard.  The colour actually works well with the butternut squash!  Although they do go a little mushy when cooked: good for Coco and her three front teeth!

The What:

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1 aubergine, chopped into chunks

1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed

40g lentils (brown, green or puy – see above)

100g hard goat’s cheese (or you can use feta as an alternative)

1 red onion, sliced

a knob of unsalted butter

Olive oil for drizzling

Some spinach leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

5 tbsp olive oil

a little black pepper

Tip: I usually make my dressings in an old jam jar so I can close the lid and give it a good shake to mix it well.

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The how:

Preheat the oven to 200 (180 fan).

Place the butternut squash on a baking tray and brush with the melted unsalted butter.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes initially.

Meanwhile, place the aubergine chunks on another baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  When the butternut squash has cooked for 10 minutes, add the aubergine to the oven and cook both for a further 25 minutes.

Rinse the lentils and then put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes (until soft).

Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onion on medium heat until caramelised.  Set aside to cool.

Once the butternut squash is cooked, chop into chunks and place in a salad bowl along with the aubergine, lentils, onions and spinach leaves (if using). Break up the goat’s cheese and place on top.

For the dressing add the balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and pepper to the jar (or a bowl) and mix well.  Next add the olive oil, close and shake well to fully combine. Drizzle the salad with the dressing or serve on the side.

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For the adults a chilled glass of fruity white wine is a good accompaniment to this salad!

Wedding photos - Carlo Gorgio 582

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A few of Coco’s favourites

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Now that little Coco is eating three meals a day, I thought I’d share a few of her current favourites with you: sweet potato and fish purée; lentils and apple, pear compote.  We still have to purée everything, although we’ve detected a glimmer of white through her bottom gum so hopefully she’ll have a few teeth soon.  I was beginning to wonder if she had any in there at all!

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Carrot & Cauliflower Lentils

Twinkle, Twinkle, little lentils…..

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Lentils are a great source of protein and really easy and quick to cook.  Luckily our little Lentil loves them too! Even if he’s unwell and his appetite isn’t great, he’ll devour any lentil dish.  You can add whatever vegetables you have in your vegetable drawer.  I’ve married carrots and cauliflower for this recipe.  The carrots help sweeten the dish a little.

Makes 4 portions

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The what:

15g unsalted butter

1 tsp olive oil

200g cauliflower florets.  The woody stems generally don’t appeal to children (and I can understand why!) so I remove these.

1/2 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

90g puy / green lentils

400ml chicken/vegetable stock

a pinch of pepper to season (optional)

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The how:

Sweat the onions, celery and carrots in the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add a little olive oil.

Steam the cauliflower, either using a steamer over a pan of boiling water or a microwaveable steamer.  Next add the steamed cauliflower, lentils and stock to the onions, celery and carrots and bring to the boil.  Then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in the pepper to season.

You can freeze extra portions for another day.

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