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Lilly Higgins: A rich multi-layered salad using the best in-season produce

A beautifully balanced but hearty salad with roast butternut squash, seasonal blood oranges and crumbles of creamy feta

One of my favourite ways to get inspiration for recipes is having a few minutes to consider what is available in my local markets. This just doesn’t happen in a large supermarket when I’m doing my weekly shop. I take note of the signs in farmers’ markets and see what is fresh and plentiful. When I chat to the vendors and stall holders, I often learn even more. I love hearing how they cook their own free range chickens or what they do to make the most of their home-grown vegetables.

A stroll through Cork’s English Market recently reminded me that blood oranges are at their best now. My children love the drama of a blood orange and its flavour is hard to beat too. Citrus works so well in savoury dishes. It brings life to earthy root vegetables such as beetroot and balances out their flavour. This is a very easy dish to prepare ahead of time and assemble just before eating. I love having some form of roast vegetables in the fridge to build a dish around.

Buttery nuts such as hazelnut and pecan are often added to salads such as this for a nutty richness that pairs so well. It lends the leafy salad some weight. Along with the wedges of roast butternut, this is much more than a seasonal side salad. It’s a feast for the eyes and a celebration of what is good now. This would be amazing alongside chicken, duck or lamb, but is equally good on its own.

Adding some mozzarella, feta or burrata cheese to a vegetable dish always feels so luxurious. That creamy saltiness really completes it. Here I’ve gone for some crumbles of feta. Radicchio has a bitter spicy taste that pairs well with the orange. This a beautifully balanced but hearty salad.


Recipe: Roast butternut squash with blood orange and radicchio

Lilly’s kitchen tips:

  1. Blood oranges have thin skins and are best kept in the fridge and enjoyed shortly after purchase. Let them get to room temperature before eating them to enjoy the full flavour.
  2. Radicchio is one of those cleansing, bitter vegetables ready for harvest at the end of winter. If the flavour is too harsh for you, mellow it by sauteing, grilling or roasting it. Balance it with a sweet thick balsamic glaze.
  3. Add even more body to this salad by folding through cooked grains such as quinoa, barley or some pearl couscous. Having roast vegetables and a grain ready cooked in the fridge is ideal for meal prep and quick lunches or dinners.