Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
For the roasted butternut squash salad:
1 large butternut squash (about 1kg/2lb 3oz), peeled, deseeded and cut into 3cm (11/4in) pieces
3 tblsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 red onions, peeled and each cut lengthways into about 8 wedges
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
200 g (7oz) mozzarella, torn into bite-sized chunks
50 g (2oz) rocket leaves
25 g (1oz) parmesan cheese, grated
For the flatbreads - makes 8 flatbreads:
225 ml (8fl oz) warm water
1 tsp caster sugar
11/2 tsp dried yeast or 15g (1/2oz) fresh yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of fast-action yeast
375 g (13oz) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tblsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
50 g (2oz) shelled pistachios, chopped
1 tblsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
For the spiced cannellini bean dip:
2 x 400 g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, or 250g (9oz) dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and cooked
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated
2 tblsp chopped parsley
50 ml (2fl oz) olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6.
Place the raw squash and onion wedges in a roasting tin and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until completely tender and slightly caramelised around the edges.
Drizzle the vinegar over the warm vegetables and set aside to cool to room temperature.
When the vegetables have cooled, add the mozzarella and rocket and toss gently together. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan, then taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary, and serve.
For the Flatbreads, in a measuring jug, mix together the warm water, sugar and yeast and leave to stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes creamy. If using fast-action yeast, there’s no need to let the mixture stand.
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric food mixer fitted with a dough hook, and mix in the chopped nuts. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture, then pour this into the dry ingredients and bring together to form a dough.
If making by hand, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and slightly springy. If using the food mixer, then knead on a medium speed for 6–8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and springy.
Grease the bowl with olive oil and place the dough back into it, then cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm to rise for 1–2 hours or until doubled in size. (The time the dough takes to rise will depend on the yeast, the temperature of the water and the temperature of the room.)
Meanwhile, make the spiced cannellini bean dip. Place the beans in a food processor and whiz up with the ground spices, the garlic, parsley and olive oil until almost smooth. Stir in enough water (about 100ml/31/2fl oz) to thin it out slightly – I like it to be the consistency of mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.
When the dough has finished rising, remove the cling film and knock back the dough by punching it to remove any air. Tip it out of the bowl onto your work surface.
Divide the dough into eight portions, then take one piece, dusting it and the worktop with flour, and roll it into a disc about 22cm (81/2in) in diameter. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough (see tip below), keeping the unrolled pieces covered with a clean tea towel so that they don’t dry out. I normally start cooking the flatbreads as soon as I have made the first one, so that while I’m rolling one, another is cooking in the pan.
Set a frying pan on a medium–high heat (no need to add any oil or butter) and allow it to get very hot, then place a flatbread in the pan and cook on each side for 1–2 minutes or until a few brown spots appear. Repeat with the remaining flatbreads. As each one is cooked, place on a board or plate, stacking them on top of each other, and cover with a clean tea towel or napkin to trap the steam and keep them soft and pliable.
Once cooked, serve warm or at room temperature with the spiced cannellini dip.