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    Roast pumpkin, leek & spelt salad with mustard dressing

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    Roast pumpkin, leek & spelt salad with mustard dressing

    by Diana Henry

    • Preparation time: 15 minutes
    • Cooking time: 20 minutes
    • Total time: 35 minutes

    Serves: 4 as a starter

    Ingredients

    600g deseeded pumpkin or butternut squash (about ½ large butternut squash or pumpkin)
    2 tbsp olive oil
    175g pearled spelt
    3 leeks
    ½ x 25g pack flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (about 2 tbsp)
    15g blanched hazelnuts, toasted and halved

    For the dressing
    1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
    ½ tsp Dijon mustard
    ½ tsp honey
    5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC, gas mark 6. Cut the pumpkin or squash, leaving the skin on, into wedges, about 2-3cm thick at the thickest part. This is easier with a pumpkin – it has the right shape – than butternut squash.

    2. Lay the slices in a roasting tin where they can all sit in a single layer. Add the olive oil, season and turn the pumpkin pieces over to make sure they’re coated. Roast for about 20 minutes – keep an eye on them – until they’re tender but haven’t collapsed (it’s hard to make the salad look good if the pumpkin flesh is too soft).

    3. While the pumpkin is roasting, cook the spelt in boiling water until tender (though spelt always retains a little bite in the centre of each grain). It will take about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse in hot water.

    4. Make the dressing while the spelt and pumpkin are cooking. Put the vinegar, mustard, honey and some salt and pepper into a bowl or cup. Add the olive oil gradually, whisking to incorporate it and help it to emulsify. Taste for seasoning and sweet-sour balance. You might need to adjust it. Remember that it’s going to dress a grain, so the flavour needs to be quite assertive.

    5. Remove the outer leaves from the leeks, trim the green, coarse leaves at the top, and trim the leeks at the base too. Cut into 2-4cm lengths and wash well, trying to keep the pieces intact. Steam these – it works much better than boiling – for 5 minutes or until tender (check with the tip of a sharp knife). Transfer them to a clean tea towel and blot the moisture on them, otherwise the water they’re holding can dilute the dressing. Season.

    6. Toss the spelt with 2/3 of the dressing and ½ the parsley, then put it onto a small platter or a broad shallow bowl. Put the leeks and pumpkin on top, drizzle over as much of the remaining dressing as you think you need, and scatter with the rest of the parsley and the hazelnuts.

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