Sautéed Black Cabbage and Roasted Butternut Squash with Ewe’s Milk Cheese Shavings
Sautéed Black Cabbage and Roasted Butternut Squash with Ewe’s Milk Cheese Shavings

Sautéed Black Cabbage and Roasted Butternut Squash with Ewe’s Milk Cheese Shavings

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    Serves 4 as a side dish or starter
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Warm autumn salads are a terrific substitute for the lighter leafier ones that we love so much during the summer. I can eat salad all year round as it makes the perfect accompaniment to grilled or roasted meat, fish and poultry.

Use the tender interior leaves of the black cabbage (also known as Cavolo nero) for this recipe and keep the larger outer leaves for adding to a risotto or soup. These young, tender leaves benefit from being cooked quickly in a dash of olive oil and a tiny amount of unsalted butter. I am a firm believer in adding a knob of butter when cooking cabbages of all varieties as the nutty flavour perfectly matches the cabbage. The roasted butternut squash adds a lovely sweet flavour with a creamy texture.

Finish this wonderful salad with shavings of ewe’s milk cheese and a drizzle of honey and wholegrain mustard vinaigrette from the fridge (this vinaigrette is a staple salad dressing that will keep well in the fridge for up to 1 week. Do remember if serving to your vegetarian friends to choose cheese made with vegetarian rennet.

Ingredients & Method

For the salad

  • 1 butternut squash (800–900g total weight), peeled
  • 6 white carrots, peeled (or use heritage carrots)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200g (prepared weight) young black cabbage (Cavolo nero) leaves (stalks removed), washed, drained and left whole or roughly shredded (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 50g hard ewe’s milk cheese (choose one from your local region, if possible – see also Cook’s Notes)
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the honey and wholegrain mustard vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon clear honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

First, for the salad, roast the butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Cut the peeled butternut squash in half lengthways and remove the seeds, then slice the flesh widthways into 3–4mm slices and spread them out on a large baking tray. Cut the white carrots into quarters and add them to the baking tray, then season with salt and pepper and drizzle over 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes or until cooked and tender. Test to see if the squash and carrots are cooked by inserting a metal skewer into them; if it glides in and out easily then they’re cooked; if there is a bit of resistance, then roast for an extra 5 minutes or so until cooked. Remove from the oven and keep hot.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the vinaigrette. Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette, plus salt and pepper, into a small, clean jam jar with a tight-fitting lid, then seal and shake vigorously. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, then cover and refrigerate until needed.

Once the squash is nearly cooked, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan until hot, then add the black cabbage and salt and pepper and sauté over a high heat for 2–3 minutes or until wilted and slightly softened but still al dente. Reduce the heat, add the butter, then let the butter melt and turn golden, stirring to mix well.

Drain the cabbage on kitchen paper, then mix it with the roasted butternut squash and white carrots. Add a tablespoon of the vinaigrette and toss to mix. Transfer the mixture to serving plates and use a vegetable peeler to shave the ewe’s milk cheese over the top. Serve immediately with grilled pork chops, grilled lamb cutlets or baked whole John Dory.

Cook’s Notes

I have chosen to only use the very tender and young black cabbage leaves for this recipe. However, do not throw the tougher outer leaves away as they will be perfect shredded and boiled in a pan of boiling salted water for 6–7 minutes or until tender. Drain, then stir the cooked leaves through creamy mashed potatoes, risotto or soup, just before serving.

The leftover vinaigrette will keep well in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. Toss it with warm boiled new potatoes and serve with baked ham, or serve the vinaigrette tossed with a salad of baby spinach, cooked crispy smoked bacon, chopped hard-boiled eggs and croûtons.

White carrots are typically available from farmers’ markets or specialist greengrocers. If you can’t find white carrots, use heritage carrots of your choice, or try using small parsnips in place of the carrots.

Other hard or semi-hard cheeses such as Cornish Yarg, Berkswell, fresh Parmesan or Pecorino can be substituted for the ewe’s milk cheese, if you like. Do remember if serving to your vegetarian friends to choose cheese made with vegetarian rennet.