A vibrant, healthy salad that you can pile high on the lunch plate without a trace of guilt.
At this time of year, warm salads have the right transitional feel for the will-it won't-it weather. I'm a sucker for the seductive, silky texture that butternut squash takes on after slow roasting, and it makes for a lively mouthful when combined with the crunchy cashews and slippery cous cous here.
I probably overuse this combination of herbs and spices - it works equally well sprinkled over potato wedges - but I just can't resist the herby heat it lends the whole shebang.
WARM COUS COUS AND ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH FENNEL, ROSEMARY AND CHILLI
Serves 4 for lunch
150g Israeli (giant) wholewheat cous cous
400ml vegetable stock
a 2lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
100g cashew nuts
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp dried rosemary
80g rocket (arugula)
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1) Stir together the butternut squash in the olive oil, fennel seeds, chilli, rosemary, salt and pepper, and roast in a deep tray for 30 minutes at 400f/200c/gas mark 6. At this point, add the cashews, toss them around in the oil a bit, then roast for another 10 minutes, then leave to cool.
2) Melt the butter in a medium sized pan, add the cous cous and toast until golden, stirring frequently. Add 350ml of the stock and leave to simmer with a lid on for 5 minutes, until it has absorbed all the liquid and is just soft through. Add more of the stock if it dries out too quickly.
3) Toss the roasted squash, cashews, cous cous and rocket leaves together while still warm.
Prepare ahead: The rocket and cashews tend to lose their crunch if added too early so if this is going in your lunchbox, roast the cashews separately and pack them aside from the main bit and then toss together just before eating. Try adding feta cheese as well for extra substance.