Snacks and Starters

Butternut Squash Soup

This is a wonderful, warming, Autumnal soup that is so comforting but made extra special with one of my favourite additions: truffle oil! A lovely lunch on a dreary grey day, this soup is also an excellent dinner party starter and has been served up to most, if not all of our friends, all of whom love it!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

Glug of olive oil

1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning or sage

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

I red onion, roughly chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and roughly chopped

Three sprigs of rosemary

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Kg butternut squash

1 litre chicken stock (I use 2 x stock pots), heated

Truffle oil to serve (my favourite is Carluccio’s Olio al Tartufo Bianco – some other brands taste too oily)

What to do…

In a large saucepan, pour in your glug of olive oil and heat on medium.

Add the Italian seasoning, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, chilli, salt and pepper. Turn down heat to low and leave to soften for 15 minutes.

Add the butternut squash and stock, bring to the boil. Then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the rosemary stems and then food-process the rest to produce this wonderful, thick autumnal Butternut Squash Soup.

Serve drizzled with a little truffle oil.

Tip…

I’ve taken to buying, garlic and chilli, amongst other herbs and spices, from the Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients frozen range – they come ready chopped and so they get added to recipes via a quick shake or two, rather than being precisely measured out!

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

It really doesn’t come any easier than this! You can also make it a couple of days before you want it – keeping it in the fridge – and it freezes really well. So, quite often, I’ll double up on the ingredients, freezing half.

 

 

 

 

Mixed Pepper Salad

Salads have become a bit of a thing for me and I’m renowned for creating something a bit different. Gone are the days of lettuce, cucumber and a bit of tomato! This mixed pepper salad has a warm, Mediterranean feel to it and brings sunshine to any plate!

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need…

3 bell peppers (different colours), sliced

2 courgettes, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Splash of olive oil

10/12 asparagus spears, trimmed

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

A handful of basil leaves

A handful of lettuce leaves

for the dressing

1 tablesp olive oil

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

What to do…

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Grab a deep, heatproof bowl and tip in the peppers and courgettes with the garlic and olive oil. Mix together and pop in the oven.

After 30 minutes, remove peppers from oven (they should just be beginning to char at the edges) and add asparagus. Stir in and pop back into the oven.

After a further 15-20 minutes (until the asparagus are cooked but not shrivelling) remove from oven, stir in cherry tomatoes and put to one side:. The tomatoes will soften in the heat of the oven-cooked vegetables as they gently cool to room temperature.

Just before you are ready to eat, take a salad bowl and mix together the dressing by stirring the ingredients together. Tip in the cooked vegetables, including the cooking juices into the bowl. Top with the basil leaves and lettuce. Mix everything together and serve, ideally with a barbecue.

Tips…

The quantities of each vegetable are purely personal – change according to taste. Lettuce leaves can be substituted with your salad leaves of choice, e.g. rocket, chicory.

I leave combining the dressing with the actual salad until we sit down at the table, thus avoiding soggy leaves!

How easy…..

Couldn’t be easier: a bit of chopping, a bit of wandering off whilst things are in the oven and a bit of mixing!

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