When I fall for a recipe, I fall hard — there are no occasional recipes in this house. It’s a double edged sword of course, since eating something every other day can rapidly turn into never wanting to see it ever again. You have been warned.
This salad started with the bulgar wheat pilaf from James Ramsden’s Love your Lunchbox — a lovely carby-but-wholegrain salad base — and several iterations later here we are.
If you have never had bulgar wheat and think it sounds horribly healthy and like it would taste that way, please try it cooked like this — it is healthy, but also delicious. I promise.
Herby bulgar wheat and roasted butternut squash sprinkled amidst peppery rocket, cherry tomatoes, chunks of salty feta and thinly sliced red onion — all drizzled with a simple balsamic and honey dressing. It’s veggie (I’m trying to reserve meat for evening meals lately), healthy and delicious.
In the same grand tradition that led me here, you can mix and match to find the combination you love best — I’ve suggested a few tweaks below but the possibilities are endless.
As the title suggests, this particular incarnation is designed as a packed lunch. I roast the butternut squash and make the pilaf ahead of time, then trundle the rest to work to chop and assemble in our basement kitchen complete with fridge and microwave. If your facilities are more limited do your chopping before you leave home and toss together everything except the dressing — come lunchtime, just drizzle over the dressing and toss again.
The quantities below are enough for 3-4 days worth of pilaf and squash, then just one serving of the rest as that’s the most logical way for packed lunch assembly — adjust as you wish!
For the bulgar wheat pilaf (makes 3-4 servings)
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g bulgar wheat
- 200ml vegetable stock (I use 1/2 a stock cube for this amount)
For the roasted butternut squash (makes 3-4 servings)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and with seeds removed, chopped into chunks
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the salad (enough for 1 serving)
- 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1/2 bag rocket
- 1/6 of a block of feta, cubed
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
For the salad dressing (enough for 1 serving)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Squeeze of honey
- Salt and pepper
For the pilaf
- Heat a splash of rapeseed or olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan and pop the kettle on
- Once the oil is warm, add the onion and fry gently on a medium-low heat until soft
- Meanwhile, dissolve your stock cube in the boiling water and set aside
- Add the spices, stir and cook for a few more minutes until fragrant
- Add the bulgar wheat and stir to coat before cooking for another minute or so, then add the stock
- Bring to a boil before turning to the lowest heat, covering with a lid and cooking until the liquid is all absorbed and the bulgar is soft and fluffy. It won’t take long for the bulgar to dry out, so if this happens turn off the heat and just leave the lid on until the wheat is soft – about 10 minutes maximum
- Transfer the pilaf to a tupperware. Once cool, this will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days
For the roasted butternut squash
- Pre-heat the oven to 180c (160c fan) and add the cubed butternut squash to a roomy mixing bowl
- Add just enough olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste
- Tip the squash into a baking tray (lined for easy clean up) and roast until soft and starting to caramelise — about 30 minutes
- Transfer to another tupperware and allow to cool before storing in the fridge. This will keep for about 4 days
For the salad
- First, make the dressing. I only ever eyeball this, and you know how much dressing you like. I tend to aim for two parts olive oil to one part balsamic vinegar (I love vinegar but if you want a milder dressing, go for a 3:1 ratio) and then add a small squeeze of honey and salt and pepper to taste
- Toss the rocket, cherry tomatoes, onion and feta in the dressing until well coated. At this point you can reheat both the pilaf and the butternut squash in the microwave for a lovely warm salad, or leave them cold — either way is delicious.
- Add the pilaf and squash to the rest, and toss again
- Return to your desk to devour or better yet, find a sunny spot and enjoy
Mix it up: goat’s cheese or mozzarella instead of the feta / roasted aubergine or courgette instead of the squash / add sliced red or orange bell peppers / try a honey-mustard dressing
Listening to Bad Liar by Selena Gomez, Star of the County Down by The High Kings and Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac.
© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2017.