I felt a little bit guilty about ordering a 500cl bottle of ice cold retsina at lunch time – errr, just after 12pm – following a hot hour of shopping at the farmer’s market in Corfu town last summer. Not for long though because it was such a pleasure to sit for another blissful hour watching the stall holders and the locals come and go filling up their baskets with golden summer squashes, exotic spices, beans of every type imaginable, briny olives and caper berries, succulent sun-dried fruit, tangy white cheese aged in barrels, foraged greens, lemons, cherries and figs picked from summer gardens and copious amounts of herbs, dried and fresh. Our ability to communicate with a minimal understanding of the Greek language – any language for that matter – always amazes me. I guess that’s down to the universal language of food and the adoration of simple ingredients that unites us all. I wrote this recipe for a market salad of cumin-roasted squash, wild and red rice, plump dried cranberries, black beans and tangy feta with a honey mustard dressing whilst sitting at that market table quietly inspired by the simple beauty of everything around me. This is a salad for all seasons.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into wedges
2tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
150g of brown, red and wild rice (you can buy this pre-mixed in Asian stores)
1 400g can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed
A couple of handfuls of dried cranberries
100g wild rocket
1 red chilli, seeds removed and thinly sliced or 1 tsp of chilli flakes
Juice of half a lemon
150g of feta, crumbled
A few whole caper berries, for garnishing (optional)
2 tsp chopped hazelnuts or mixed seeds, lightly toasted for garnishing
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp cyder vinegar
1 tbsp Greek runny honey
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
How I make it
Heat an oven to 200C.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients and whisking together. Set aside to allow all the flavours to combine.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a flat baking tray. Place the squash wedges on top, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the cumin and coriander seeds over the top and season to your taste. Place in a heated oven for 30 minutes until the squash is soft and starting to caramelise at the edges.
Meanwhile, place into a small lidded saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, partially cover and allow to simmer – stirring occasionally – until the rice is cooked through (about 25 minutes). Drain and set aside.
Remove the wedges from the oven and carefully place in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked rice, beans, cranberries, chopped chilli and lemon juice. Then add the dressing and gently combine.
Crumble the feta over the top and garnish with the mixed seeds or chopped hazelnuts.