Warm Winter Salad: A Ladies Drawing Night Feast

The Hardenbergia’s late Winter white blooms are getting me prematurely excited for Spring. The garden has been a little dormant these past few weeks and suddenly there is a bit of a change about, with a few things starting to show signs of life again, woohoo. In the excitement we decided to progress from soup to a warm winter salad for Ladies Drawing Night dinner this month. It was a fantastic evening as always and the menu appeared to fuel the creative ladies very satisfactorily.
The butternut in this salad is a really special new discovery. The coriander and lemon are subtle and perfect, adding a beautiful fragrance to the entire salad. All the elements can be prepared and cooked concurrently so don’t panic at the list of ingredients. This is a salad that won’t leave you hungry, it’s meaty without being literally so.


Warm Winter Salad
Serves 4-8
For the sticky lemon & maple syrup roasted parsnips
• 4 parsnips, quartered lengthways
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 Tbsp maple syrup
• Salt to taste
For the roasted butternut w. coriander and fennel seeds
• 1 butternut, skin & seeds removed, cut into 1.5cm thick slices
• 2 tsp coriander seeds
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• juice of 1 lemon
• fennel fronds
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• salt to taste
For the caramelised fennel
• 2 medium fennel
• 40g unsalted butter
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 2 Tbsp caster sugar
• 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
• zest of 1 lemon
• salt to taste
For the crispy baked ricotta
• 250g firm ricotta
• ¼ cup grated parmesan
• juice of ½ lemon
• 1 Tbsp oregano leaves
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• salt to taste
For the salad dressing
• juice of 1 lemon
• 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 Tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
• salt + black pepper to taste
Other salad ingredients
• mixed salad leaves
• ¼ cup roasted hazelnuts
Sticky lemon & maple syrup roasted parsnips
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place parsnips on a tray lined with baking paper.
Add lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil and salt. Toss to coat evenly.
Roast for 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on the parsnips to make sure they don’t burn on the edges.
Roasted butternut w. coriander and fennel seeds
Place prepared butternut on a tray lined with baking paper
Add seeds, lemon juice, Fennel fronds, olive oil and salt. Toss to coat evenly.
Roast for 40 minutes on the lower shelf of the oven (while roasting the parsnips).
Caramelised fennel
Remove fennel stalks and hard base of the bulb.
Place the cut base onto a chopping board and slice the fennel into 2-3cm thick slices downwards, across it’s length. This way the fennel will hold together when frying.
Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. When it starts foaming and bubbling, add cut fennel to the pan.
Cook for 2-3 minutes on first side till browned. Flip the fennel over and cook another 2-3 minutes. Transfer fennel to a plate.
Clean the pan and dry well.
Place the pan back on the heat and add the fennel seeds. Fry off the seeds for 30 seconds.
Add sugar and 1 tsp of water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Place fennel back in the pan and coat in the sugar mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes to achieve a caramelized crust.
Top with grated lemon zest.
Crispy baked ricotta
Turn oven up to 200°C.
Crumble ricotta into a bowl
Add grated parmesan, lemon juice, oregano leaves and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Mix to combine and spread the crumbs of cheese onto a lined baking tray.
Bake until the cheese begins to brown round the edges.
Assembling the Salad
Mix dressing ingredients together in a pouring jug. Layer up the salad in a wide serving bowl, starting with the greens and ending with a sprinkle of baked ricotta and some roasted hazelnuts. Pour the dressing over and serve while still warm.
The ladies of Ladies Drawing Night were also treated to this delicious chickpea kibbeh which we served with fresh avocado tahini dip. A recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook by Salma Hage.
And finally the cherryless cherry on top was an upside down blood orange cake. Get the fabulous ‘Not Quite Nigella’ recipe here.
If you would like to feast on scrumptious food and unleash your inner creative then say hello via email: varina@blighstbistro.com and I will add you to our workshops and creative happenings newsletter. Looking forward to seeing you there.

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