Thursday, 1 December 2011

Winter salad of alpine cheese

With roasted squash, smoky ham, and fresh, raw spinach, this salad is warming and quick to make on a cold winter evening. I used a cheese called Chartreux, a semi-firm, washed rind cheese from the Vallée des Entremonts in the French alpine Chartreuse mountains. A fruity, lively flavoured cheese, fragrant and grassy, this is a typical mountain cheeses made in the valleys of the Alps. Cheeses such as Comté, Beaufort, Appenzell, Morbier, Raclette or Tilsit would be interesting substitutes.
1 bag baby leaf spinach
150g smoked ham, cut into lardons
1 butternut squash
150g Chartreux (or similar) cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
3 cloves garlic
1/3 baugette
Olive oil
Sherry vinegar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
6 banana shallots

1.       Dice the squash into 2cm cubes, toss in olive oil, sea salt, pepper, a little chopped rosemary, and a few bruised clove of garlic. Roast at 200C for 30 minutes, or until soft and beginning to caramelise.
2.       Meanwhile peel and quarter the shallots, and place in a small frying pan with a little butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar. Start cooking on a high heat before transferring to the oven.
3.       Cut the baguette into smallish pieces, toss in olive oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes to crisp and start to brown.
4.       When the squash and shallots are ready, take them out of the oven, and allow to cool slightly.
5.       Place a frying pan over a medium heat, add a little olive oil, and lightly fry the smoked ham, until warmed through and taking on a golden colour.
6.       In a large bowl, toss the baby spinach, shallots, smoked ham, squash, crisp baguette together with the slightest sprinkling of sherry vinegar and olive oil.

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