People sometimes ask me whether I do not run out of inspiration for meals and photos. Funnily, that is one of the few things I do not worry about. I wake up in the morning having the most creative thoughts, and I have to force myself to turn off my brain at night, to not mentally take photo props, seasonal produce and recipes to bed with me.
I am always inspired: Sometimes due to a recipe which I find online, thanks to a food magazine, or even just through props like dishes and cutlery, or by nature. I often create images in my head before knowing what I actually want to cook, and at other times I see an ingredient that inspires me to come up with a recipe.
The latter has happened with today’s delicious autumn harvest salad. I saw rainbow chard at Borough Market the other week and instantly knew I wanted to give a chard salad a try. I’ve actually never had raw chard before, but once massaged, it softens and can be used like kale (in fact, if you cannot find chard as its season is over, use spinach or kale for the recipe below).
Sadly, my local fruit and veg shop had Swiss chard only – you could swap it for rainbow chard for your own variation of this goodness bowl. Add all things Autumn, such as pears, grapes, cranberries and squash, and top the whole thing with nuts and a strong blue cheese. The result is a salad sent from heaven, and once again proof for me that Autumn is the most beautiful season of all!
Autumn harvest salad with amaranth and roquefort
For two servings.
For the salad:
70 grams amaranth
1/2 small onion squash (or butternut squash)
Olive oil, for brushing
400 grams Swiss or rainbow chard (or use kale or spinach instead)
125 grams red grapes
1 handful dried cranberries
1 handful hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
75 grams roquefort cheese (or use any other blue cheese)
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon runny honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground
Bring to a boil 150 millilitres lightly salted water. Rinse and drain the amaranth, transfer to the boiling water and simmer until the water is absorbed and the amaranth seeds are cooked (about 15 minutes, add more water if necessary). Stir a few times, and allow amaranth to cool slightly.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 175°C (fan). Wash, seed and slice the onion squash (peel if using butternut squash). Brush the squash with some olive oil, spread it on a baking tray or rack and bake for 20 minutes until soft and tender.
Wash and spin-dry the chard, remove the furthest ends from the stems and thinly slice the leaves and stems. Massage the chard for a few minutes until it softens.
Wash the pear, slice or cube it. Wash the grapes, cut them in halves.
Arrange all vegetables, fruits and amaranth in a bowl or on a platter, sprinkle with cranberries, nuts and the cheese.
Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing, pour the vinaigrette over the salad, serve.