Meat Free Monday: Butternut, feta & couscous salad

I love Summer. Those long, languid days, salty, sun-kissed skin, sparkly drinks to go with sparkling eyes…there really are few things quite as effortlessly inspiring. There is only so long that we can all dig our heels in and refuse to accept that the end of the Summer is near and the thought of using the weather as a mood enhancer needs to be packed away until next year. Yes, it is a jagged little pill and all it does is make me want to hold on to the thought of light lunches, chilled white wine and warm tones.

It’s still a tad too early for butternut to truthfully be in season but I couldn’t resist reaching out for one as I passed them at the store. Their colour reminds me of a sunset on Clifton 2, bodies radiating the days sunshine, mind filled with that childlike spirit that only comes from being at the sea and “playing” again. Who wouldn’t want that subtle reminder?

During the Winter months, butternuts from here to the boarder will meet their usual fate: to become butternut soup. Whether you choose to make yours with lashings of orange, like Woolworths, or with a hint of coconut milk and lemon grass, it’s up to personal preference.  To me, butternut is something my Gran roasts with freshly ground black pepper, cumin and dried red chillies until their skin is crisp and the flesh is the perfect companion to a Sunday bird. The thought of that crisped butternut skin is where I got the inspiration for this salad. 

Serves 2 generously. 

1 small butternut, cored and sliced into 1cm slices
2 fresh red chillies, sliced
drizzle of honey
olive oil 
salt & pepper to taste
¼ cup of dried couscous
boiling water
half a round of feta
salad leaves
Willowcreek lemon infused olive oil. 

I prepared the butternut the night before. 
Heat oven to 200ºC. In an oven proof dish, turn the butternut, chillies, honey, salt, pepper  and olive oil until well coated. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 45mins. Using a fork, prick the butternut to make sure that it’s soft throughout. Turn up the heat on the oven to the highest setting and leave the squash inside until it starts to caramelise. Switch off the oven and leave the dish inside. This will draw out the natural sugars and give your roasted butternut that near-syrupy coating. 

When you’re ready to serve, boil just over a ¼cup of water and pour over couscous that has been lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Be sure to cover the steaming couscous with some cling film or a plate so that the pebbles swell enough. Using a fork, ruffle the couscous. 

On a plate, place some salad greens, I used Woolworths spinach, rocket and watercress mixed leaves. Cut the feta into cubes and place on the salad with a few rounds of butternut. Drizzle with Willowcreek lemon infused oil.

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