The leaves are changing..easy soda bread and a jewel tone autumnal salad

Items from the garden and the farm shopWell it is well and truly fall in the UK, heck it is down right chilly out. I had to venture into the attic this weekend to get my winter coats out. I have been clearing the garden out an harvesting the last of my squash to store away for future use. I also made a trip to my local farm shop and picked up our jack o lantern. As they usually disappear quite quickly I have been stocking up on cooking pumpkins as well as ocado have a fantastic variety called delica. It taste is much richer and far less watery than it’s orange fleshed cousin.

delica pumpkin

Oddly it is easier to de-seed as well. I have been roasting them and freezing the puree so that I have homemade puree throughout the winter. Not that I don’t like the canned pumpkin that I grew up with, however there is nothing like a homemade pumpkin pie made with homemade pumpkin puree. The taste is much richer, you can slow roast the pumpkin until it literally falls apart and starts to caramelise.

Due to the poor weather we have had this year, my squash harvest had to come in a bit earlier than expected and I have lovingly (and carefully) picked all squash off the vines and have them tucked away in my cupboard.

Last knockings from my garden

I was able to pick 3 more spaghetti squash, 1 mystery squash, and 3 acorn squash. I have all manner of plans for them all, and will post recipes soon. For now, I have been baking bread and making jewel toned salads.

I have always shied away from making my own bread. To me, homemade bread was either bought from the local bakers or something that went from the packet, to the bread maker and voila! Homemade bread. I have been on a kick lately to learn how to bake bread properly, having been glued to the TV throughout The Great British Bake Off series and have decided that this is my year to learn, albeit quickly. I have signed up with a well known cookery school in London to learn at the end of November, and hope to be fully proficient at the end of my course. Ok, realistically, I hope to be able to properly knead and bake 1 or 2 types of bread by the end of the year.

Last weekend was truly awful weather and I had no fresh bread, and needed some within an hour to go with lunch. I looked through what I had in the pantry and fridge and off I went in search of the perfect recipe. My search took me to an easy soda bread recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called Easy soda bread. The clue is in the name, however don’t be expecting the traditional irish soda bread, but it makes a nice loaf that is good that day and only useful for toasting the next.

My first homemade bread

It turned out lovely and golden, and a pinch underdone. Not for nothing did I spend hours watching The Great British Bake Off to know the signs, however it was nice nonetheless and meant that no one had to traipse outside in the pouring rain to buy bread.

The next step was the main event so to speak. The salad. Yes, I know, cold rainy day and salads don’t usually mix, but this salad is a stunner. Even my husband loved it, and his motto is You don’t make friends with salad.

This is the one of those salads you want to savour. You need to sit down at the table with a cloth napkin and a glass of crisp white wine and enjoy!

Jewel tone autumnal salad (also known as mozzarella, parma ham and fig salad)

The inspiration for this salad came from a salad I regularly buy from Borough Market, that I felt I could vastly improve upon. I added a little of this and that and came up with a gorgeous filling salad that should appeal to most.

Autumnal mozzarella, fig, and parma ham salad

Serves 2
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 1 minute
Total time 11 minutes
Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Lunch, Salad
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
This is the ultimate autumnal jewel tone salad, that offers a tangy bite tempered with the soft milkiness of the mozzarella, the faint saltiness of the olives and parma ham, complemented by the peppery rocket and honey sweet taste of the figs

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces fresh figs (quartered)
  • 1 Large Ball of mozzarella di bufala (roughly torn into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 thin slices Parma ham (roughly torn)
  • 25g Toasted hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 100g Mixed salad leaves (I used a mix of baby spinach, rocket (arugula), and watercress)
  • 1 Medium Carrot (grated)
  • 50g Beetroot (this can be fresh or pickled, I used pickled and quartered them)
  • 10 pieces Kalamata olives (left whole)
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (Decent quality)
  • 1.5 tablespoons Rapeseed oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

Note

Any type of bread is good with this, but I particularly like a crusty bread that you can break up into little pieces and scatter in to soak up the juices of the salad.

Directions

Step 1
First put the salad leaves in the bowl
Step 2
Layer all other ingredients over the salad leaves with the exception of the hazelnuts and dressing.
Step 3
Season the salad with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 4
Scatter the hazelnuts over the salad.
Step 5
Using scissors, snip 1 to 2 leaves of fresh basil over the salad (optional).
Step 6
Finally whisk together the balsamic, rapeseed oil and dijon mustard and drizzle lighty over the salad.

Have a good one!
Steph