Butternut Squash Salad

Butternut Squash Salad

I do quite like making salads using a range of ingredients. Even as it gets colder I do like a salad either as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment to something else.

This was a recent tasty salad that I made using butternut squash. I cut up the butternut squash into chunks and roasted in the oven with some olive oil.

Once this was cooked I constructed the salad. I started off with a bed of mixed leaves. I quite like butterhead lettuce you can get from various supermarkets, or the rosa verde salad bag from M&S.

To this I add cubes of cucumber, sliced tomato, slices of red pepper, sweetcorn, pomegranate seeds, mozzarella, thinly sliced radish and Serrano ham. I also used a nut and seed mix from Aldi to add some crunch.

You can dress the salad with a dressing, sometimes I do a simple French dressing, sometimes I let the natural flavours work their magic.

There isn’t a barcode…

So I had popped out to Morrisons to get a couple of cucumbers for a picnic I was planning. However the two I bought from Morrisons were not very nice. They looked weird and didn’t feel right.

I think they had been frozen and then defrosted. As a result we had to put them in the food waste. It was challenging, via the Twitter, to get a refund, as they kept asking for a bar code, which didn’t exist.

I posted my complaint on the Twitter.

Morrisons did respond and asked for some information

Please can you DM me; the barcode of the item, your receipt, your More card number…

Well my response was a photograph of my receipt, my More card number and I said

No barcodes on cucumbers

Their response was

Hello James, I’m sorry to hear this. Please can you provide me with the product barcode so i can look into this for you

I said

They are loose vegetables so there isn’t a barcode on the cucumbers to provide.

As you can see from this photograph there are no barcodes on the cucumbers.

Their response was not to believe me, however I did get a refund.

On this occasion i have processed a refund for you. If this happens again please provide a photo of the product along with the bar code

There still isn’t a bar code though…

Little salad bowls

With this beautiful hot weather we have been eating a lot of salad. Recently I have been plating up salads for people using individual tapas style bowls. These I “picked up” from Lidl in their Sol Mar Spanish Tapas dishes in the freezer, which come with some useful little brown tapas dishes.

The advantage of these over plating onto the main plates is that they take up less room and it’s easier from a portion control perspective. The advantage of merely creating one big salad is that in the family some people like some salad items and others prefer something else. I like tomatoes, but another member of the family prefers grapes in their salad.

Depending on what we have in the fridge and the cupboard will determine what goes into the individual salad bowls.

I quite like to add a base layer of houmus to mine, to which I then add a handful of mixed lettuce leaves. I add slices of “heritage” tomatoes, slices of radish, sliced pepper, pomegranate seeds and diced cucumber.

Other ingredients I have used include batons of cucumber, grapes, sweetcorn, mixed pulses, sometimes raw red onion.

I rarely add dressing, but if I do, usually I just add a drizzle of olive oil and some white wine vinegar.

Time for a salsa

salsa

Actually I am not sure if this is a salsa or not, as I didn’t follow a recipe nor did I check what making salsa entails… 

This was made using my new kitchen toy I got for my birthday, a mandolin,  (other similar models can be had on Amazon).

Ingredients for the salsa.

      • Red pepper (half)
      • Orange pepper (half)
      • Small red onion
      • Cucumber (quarter)
      • Sweetcorn (half a small tin)
      • Olive oil (splash)
      • White wine vinegar (slightly smaller splash)
      • Salt and Pepper
      • Chilli flakes (to taste)

Using the fine dicer, I diced the peppers, onion and cucumber before stirring them. I then added the sweetcorn, the olive oil and white wine vinegar. Add seasoning and the chilli flakes to taste. This was then thoroughly stirred and covered for a hour or two.

Serve with barbecued meats or with tacos. 

You need more staff…

I like great service, actually I almost expect great service. Generally most people do not go out to a restaurant to eat, they go for the whole experience. The welcome, the opening drink, the perusal of the menu, the choosing, the ordering, the anticipation, the actual eating, the reflection and leaving the table, knowing you don’t need to do the washing up. It’s the atmosphere, the furniture, the music, or no music, the ambience. A good restaurant will try and ensure that the whole experience is just right, and good customer service, is critical for a positive dining experience.

Down in London for a short break, we went to Pizza Express in Kingston, in the Rotunda. Though they said the air-conditioning was broken, it wasn’t that hot, so it didn’t appear that was going to be an issue.

Looking over the menu I decided upon the Toscana Romana Pizza, which is described as having a bigger, thinner, crispier pizza, topped with crumbled chilli & fennel sausage, mozzarella and tomato finished with baby mozzarella, Gran Moravia cheese, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Toscana Pizza

Though on my pizza I got slices of sausage rather than crumbled sausage and I think the pizza works better for it. The Toscana Pizza was delicious and I really enjoyed it.

My wife went with the Leggera Superfood Salad, this is made with baby spinach and seasonal mixed leaves, roasted butternut squash, beetroot, light baby mozzarella, avocado, pine kernels, cucumber, lentils and fresh basil, finished with balsamic syrup.

Superfoods Salad

She really enjoyed it, she though was disappointed that it had no seafood in it! Always read the menu carefully.

Unfortunately, a lack of staff meant for me that the dining experience, specifically the service, was not as good as the pizza. We had to wait long amounts of time between getting the menu, placing our food order, ordering additional drinks and getting the bill. One of the results of the lengthy service delays was in the end we decided not to have pudding.

I don’t mind slow service sometimes, it’s nice to take your time and not be rushed, however, I do find there is a difference between slow and indifferent, which appeared to be the issue here. Too often we were ignored even though we had indicated or even said we wanted some attention. I got the feeling that this was down to a lack of staff, who were probably too rushed and forgot about the key elements of good customer service.

The food was great, just a pity about the service.

Pancetta Salad

Pancetta Salad

This is a variation on a salad I blogged about a month ago or so.

Take some mixed leaves, I like the peppery flavour of rocket in my salads so I used that alongside some sliced Romaine lettuce.

Place them on a plate.

Add some sun dried tomatoes, I use SunBlush as they are not as chewy as “proper” sun dried tomatoes.

Add some chopped cucumber, depending on how thick or tough the skin is, you can either leave or peel. I peeled as the skin on my organic cucumber was quite tough.

Dress with some extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and black pepper.

Top the salad off with some pan fried (until crispy) pancetta bacon.

Serve with fresh bread.