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    Thomasina Miers' Smoked Squash Salad with Hazelnuts, Chicory and Blue Cheese

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    Thomasina Miers' Smoked Squash Salad with Hazelnuts, Chicory and Blue Cheese

    "This exotic salad was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe, where he smokes beetroot for a salad. I felt the same simple technique could be applied to other root vegetables and this is the wonderful result." - Thomasina Miers

    Serves: 4


    For the salad:
    1 large butternut squash
    250g long-grain rice
    Pared rind of 1 lemon
    Small bunch of thyme
    1 tbsp olive oil
    70g hazelnuts
    50g caster sugar
    3 heads of chicory
    Handful of mint leaves
    1/2 large banana shallot, finely sliced

    For the dressing:
    70g blue cheese (something peppery such as Stilton or Roquefort)
    1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
    4 tsp sherry vinegar
    80ml extra-virgin olive oil
    Handful of chives, finely chopped


    1. Preheat the oven to 240c/gas 8

    2. Cut the squash in half, deseed and cut each half into rough slices, about 6 per half

    3. Line a large frying pan or wok with 2 large sheets of foil with plenty of overhang (for the smoking to work you will need to seal in the squash completely). Pour the rice into the pan with the pared lemon rind (I use a vegetable peeler) and thyme. Sprinkle over 2 tbsp of water. Pop the squash on top of the rice, put a lid over the pan and wrap the foil tightly around the lid. Place over your highest heat; after 4-5 minutes you should see a little whiff of smoke threading out. If in doubt have a sniff, you should be able to tell that the rice is smoking. Smoke for exactly 8 minutes, then remove from the heat.

    4. Transfer the squash to a roasting tray and throw away the remaining contents of the parcel. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes until a knife can pierce it easily. Set aside to cool, then toss in the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

    5. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/gas 3 and roast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until a pale golden

    6. Put the sugar and 2 tbsp of water into a small pan and stir to melt the sugar over a gentle heat. Once the sugar has melted stop stirring, increase the heat a little and cook until the sugar has turned into a nut-brown caramel, swirling the pan around to evenly disperse the darker patches of brown. Immediately remove from heat, add the nuts, stir to coat and pour the lot onto a tray lined with baking paper. Allow to cool, then roughly chop.

    7. Meanwhile, blitz the dressing ingredients with a stick blender and season generously with salt and pepper.

    8. To assemble the salad, separate the chicory into leaves, cut in half and wash and dry well. Wash and dry the mint and roughly chop. Toss the chicory, nuts, shallot and mint in the salad dressing and check the seasoning. Scatter over the roasted squash at the last minute. Check the seasoning again and serve.

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    This recipe was taken from Home Cook, by Thomasina Miers (GuardianFaber, £25)

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