A HINT of garlic wafts from the oven as I open the door, to check on my wedges of squash, baking to a yielding sweet intensity. Their curvy, vivid orange outline, scattered with twiggy stalks of thyme, remind me of the last straggling brown leaves clinging to the spindly branches in the garden. I’m still undecided what to combine with my wedges of squash: perhaps the salty tang of feta, the crunch of pumpkin seeds or the gentle heat of a few chilli flakes. What I do know is that this is going to be both warm and warming – everything a wonderful winter salad should be.

I make salads heavier on ingredients and lighter on leaves come winter– almost a role reversal of its leafy summertime cousin. Those leaves might be soft clusters of lamb’s lettuce or the bitter crunch of endive, maybe mixed with the heat of watercress. I want the leaves simple, almost a chorus player, not a leading lady. The stars are going to be some heavy-hitters to combat cold weather.

Think of it as a cooked salad, in which ingredients hold their shape. Nuggets of peppery black pudding marry perfectly with the softness of the squash. Silky cured ham, bacon lardons or piquant chorizo are equally good, offering saltiness and texture. The crunch of nuts, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds is irresistible; a scattering of tangy crumbled blue cheese is an ideal finishing flourish

Warm salad of butternut squash, black pudding and croutons with pumpkin seed oil

Recipes serve 4

1 butternut squash

160g black pudding

2 small white crusty rolls

10-12 radishes, cut into wedges

2 cloves garlic, peeled

A couple of thyme sprigs

Olive oil

A couple of dstsp pumpkin seeds

Juice and zest of a lime

150g packet of mache or lamb’s lettuce


1. Trim the top and base off the butternut squash then halve the squash widthways. Place the lower, bulbous piece (with seeds) on a chopping board and cut from top to bottom with a sharp sturdy knife to remove the skin, following the natural curve of the squash as you work around it. Cut it in half and scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut the flesh into neat wedges and set aside. Skin the upper section in the same fashion and dice the flesh into even-sized 2cm cubes then set these aside.

2. Slice the rolls into thin slices and rub with the peeled garlic clove then drizzle olive oil. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C until golden, 5-8 minutes depending on oven. Once cooked, allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

3. Cut black pudding into slices about 1.5cm thick then cut these pieces into nuggets and arrange carefully on a baking tray.

4. Zest the lime into a small dish and then cut lime in half and squeeze the juice over the zest; set aside.

5. To finish and serve: place black pudding in the oven at 180C and cook until just soft, 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, heat two frying pans and add a clove of garlic to each and a little olive oil. Add the squash wedges to one pan and the cubes to the other. Cook until tender, allowing them to turn lightly golden brown all over. Add the thyme halfway through and season with sea salt and gresh ground black pepper.

6. Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Add three-quarters of the black pudding and most of the squash, drizzle with the pumpkin seed oil then add the lime juice and zest. Season lightly then toss everything well to mix then add croutons and the rest of the ingredients so they are scattered across the surface. Serve at once.

Roast pepper, feta and red onion salad with balsamic vinegar

3 red and 3 yellow peppers

20 cherry tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

Few sprigs thyme

100g feta cheese

2 red onions

1 rounded dstsp chopped chives

4 heads little gem lettuce

Balsamic vinegar and olive oil


1. Cut the peppers in half and discard the stalks and seeds. Place peppers on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Slice the garlic very finely and scatter over the peppers. Season with salt and place in a pre-heated oven at 180C to roast until the flesh is soft, about 30 minutes, then remove form the oven. Transfer the peppers to a plastic bag and seal so the steam lifts the skin off. When cool enough to handle, carefully open the bag, beware of juices. If possible, collect some of these juices in a small bowl. Lift the peppers out and peel the skin away using a small knife. Now cut the peppers into strips and store in any juices you managed to save. Set aside.

2. Halve the cherry tomatoes and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil and bake at 180C in a pre-heated oven until slightly collapsed, about 10 minutes, add to the peppers.

3. Peel the red onions and cut in half through the root, which you can then cut out and discard. Slice the onions very finely and set aside.

4. Halve the gem lengthways and shred the leaves. Place in a bowl and add the chives and onion and crumble most of the feta in, saving some as garnish for the end. Rewarm the peppers and tomato mix on a tray through the oven then scatter trough the leaves. Toss well, drizzle a little balsamic over then sprinkle the rest of the feta on and serve at once.

Geoffrey Smeddle is chef patron of The Peat Inn, by St Andrews, Fife KY15 5LH 01334 840206 www.thepeatinn.co.uk