London, Helen Goh & 365’s Roasted Squash Salad

by meike peters

The clouds hung low over London – as usual – yet as soon as our plane plopped through the thick layer of foggy mist, millions of sparkling lights danced underneath us and made me giggle like a child. There’s a picturesque, an almost innocent cuteness about this city that reminds me of a fairy tale. Colorful doors in sturdy brick houses, smoking chimneys and neatly cut boxwoods. If I had painted my dream city as a child, it would have been London.

So I was back, just for a few days, with a new cookbook in my bag and the unsettled excitement of a nervous author. London was the third stop on my 365 book tour and I asked a very special woman if she’d join me to talk about my new book on the big day, a woman whose work I have admired for years and whose creations I enjoy every time I’m in town: Helen Goh, co-author of Sweet, also responsible for some of the best sweet creations piled up at the Ottolenghi temples’ temptingly luscious displays. When Helen said “Yes,” I felt like a groupie who got handed a backstage pass. The first thing she said when we met before the guests arrived was “lets have a glass of wine and sit down.” She saw that I was nervous. I looked into her eyes and immediately felt calm. And contrary to my usual habit of not having a single drop before a talk, I had a glass of Meridiana Wine Estate‘s dark red Melqart. It neither harmed nor increased my chattiness but it reminded me of the fact that all this is fun. To meet people all over the world and talk about food is one of the greatest gifts that my cookbooks – and this blog – have given me. (You can watch some snippets from our conversation here on my Instagram Stories.)

We had a fantastic evening, chatting, discussing, and laughing, enjoying more of Meridiana‘s wines and food from the book; bruschetta, quiche, and brownies, and the Roasted Squash, Shallot, and Radicchio Salad with Stilton – recipe no. 289 in 365 – a beautifully vibrant recipe that I share with you below. This salad is a spectacular, and easy to prepare starter during the festive season, but also a wonderfully light lunch or dinner when December’s feasting becomes a little too excessive.

When I wrote about my Berlin book launch, I mentioned that this tour is only possible because I have amazing friends at my side. People who I’ve been working with for years and who’ve been solid rocks in their support for my adventures. The night I arrived in London, I jumped into a taxi that took me straight to my favorite hotel in town. We celebrated the launch of 365 at the magical Corinthia London, and to come back to the fairy tale, I was also lucky to sleep there and this definitely made me feel like a princess. Laying in the coziest cloudy bed, framed by more puffy pillows than one really needs (but it feels so good), and room service delivering the best fish and chips at midnight. I don’t think life could possibly get any better than this. But then breakfast comes, and the spa, and then lunch, and dinner – and the fairy tale continues. It’s a grown up princess dream come true. Thank you.

Roasted Squash, Shallot, and Radicchio Salad with Stilton
from ‘365 – A Year of Everyday Cooking & Baking’ (Prestel, 2019)

Serves 2 to 4

For the salad
¾ pound (340 g) seeded squash, preferably peeled butternut or Hokkaido with skin, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) wedges
8 shallots, unpeeled, cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup (75 ml) olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Finely ground pepper
5 ounces (140 g) radicchio, soft leaves only, torn into pieces
1 large, firm pear, cored and cut into thin wedges
2 ounces (60 g) Stilton, crumbled
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

For the dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
Fine sea salt
Finely ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

For the salad, spread the squash on one side of a large baking dish and the shal­lots on the other side. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to combine, keeping the squash and shallots separate. Season generously with flaky sea salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes. Flip the squash and shallots over and continue roasting for 10 to 15 or until golden and tender. Transfer the squash to a plate. Let the shal­lots cool for a few minutes then peel and add to the squash.

For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, both vinegars, and the honey and season to taste with fine sea salt and pepper.

Divide the radicchio, pear, squash, and shallots among plates, arranging them in overlapping layers. Sprinkle with the Stilton and thyme, drizzle with the dressing, and serve immediately.