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Squash and manouri salad from Friends at my Table by Alice Hart

Manouri is feta’s gentler brother, made from goat’s milk. It is available from delis and online – but you could use feta if you can’t find it

03 APRIL 2012
Squash Enlarge
Ingredients (Makes enough for 20 as a side dish, or 10 as a main course)

For the salad
  • 2 large coquina or butternut squash, peeled
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large handfuls of rocket
  • 2 handfuls of large green olives in oil, drained and stoned
  • 600g manouri cheese, broken into rough pieces

For the dressing
  • 175ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tbsp verjuice, or 2 tbsp liquid honey, to taste
  • 2 unwaxed lemons, finely grated zest of both and juice to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, plus a pinch to serve
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • large bunch of dill, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Slice the peeled squash in half, digging out the seeds with a spoon. Cut each half into half-moons. Toss with the olive oil, season generously and roast on two large, lined baking sheets for about 50 minutes, until dark at the edges and tender. Turn carefully with a spatula halfway. Leave to cool. This can be done two days beforehand and the squash kept chilled and covered. Return to room temperature before using.

To make the dressing, whisk the extra virgin olive oil and verjuice together (or replace the verjuice with honey and the juice of 1 lemon). Add the chilli flakes, fennel seeds and lemon zest. Stir in half the chopped dill. Taste, season and taste again, then add more verjuice or honey and lemon juice, if you want. Make this up to three days in advance and keep it chilled, but only add the dill just before using.

To serve, divide the remaining dill, the rocket, olives and roast squash between two or three serving bowls. Whisk the dressing well and spoon a little over each bowlful. Toss gently to coat the rocket leaves lightly. Now add the manouri, gently distributing it among the salad ingredients so as not to break the cheese up too much. Spoon the remaining dressing evenly over each bowlful, sprinkle with a little extra dried chilli, if you wish, and sea salt (remember that the cheese contains no salt at all). Serve soon after.

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