Basking in Butternut

When I moved abroad, I only brought a few books with me and one happens to be Clodagh McKenna’s cookbook, Homemade. I brought it because she uses only a few ingredients and makes everything look so blissfully yummy. I really didn’t know how big “a star” she was until my recent trip to Ireland. To quote Ron Burgundy, “She’s kind of a big deal.”

IMG_0567I see her menu on our Aer Lingus flight. It spans almost two seats. That should tell me something.

From her website, I learn she IS a big Irish celebrity with several cookbooks, television shows, restaurants and food columns in national newspapers and magazines. Currently her Irish Food Trail show airs on PBS and Create TV in the US. She has appeared on The Rachel Ray Show, The Today Show, The Nate Berkus Show and more. I wish I knew. I had no idea – I just like the simplicity of her recipes. She is brilliant!

Upon our arrival in Dublin, we walk through Henry Street where Arnott’s is located. She has not one but two restaurants, Clodagh’s Kitchen and Homemade, in the department store. There is also a bakery. I feel giddy in a slippery noodle kind of way.

DSC07881With luggage in tow (how embarrassing!), we sit down at Homemade.

IMG_3320The place is busy with baby mamas and people taking a break from a Saturday shopping frenzy. Odd dislikes large crowds but takes it in stride.

The restaurant is understated and charming. Best of all, its emphasis is on locally grown ingredients. Food is ordered cafeteria style so we pick and choose what we want. I have my eyes set on a Fresh Berry Pavlova too but am not able to make room on my tray – any excuse to come back for tea…and let me say, the Irish do love a cup of tea!

DSC07884I sit down with Quiche, some pasta and butternut squash salad.

DSC07890I especially love the butternut squash salad. It’s creamy and comforting.

These last few weeks, I have been obsessed with butternut squash so it’s no surprise that I am attempting to make a version. With the holiday season creeping up, I thought I’d try to add a little more for color. They say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Hope she’s flattered.

DSC08596Butternut Squash Salad

Serves 4

1 butternut squash (18 ounces), peeled, seeded, cut in small cubes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup cranberries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, toasted (optional)
6 leaves fresh basil, julienne

DSC08538A morning sun bath for my lil’ butternut.DSC08552Carefully, cut top and bottom of squash. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin.

DSC08553Scoop out the seeds and discard.

DSC08561Using a sharp knife, slice carefully.

DSC08564Then chop into small bite size cubes.

DSC08566

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

DSC08571Spread on a sheet pan, in a single layer, lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees F. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes or until soft and golden, turning at least once.DSC08592Roughly chop the cranberries, julienne the basil, crumble the cheese and toast your sunflower/pumpkin seeds/nuts. In a bowl, toss with the roasted squash.

DSC08600Something magical happens once it all comes together. A little sweet, creamy, tangy and a bit nutty all in one. Serve warm or at room temperature with hearty bread. I must say they have great brötchen here and I especially love the ones with seeds on top.

DSC08645Or toss with farfalle pasta, if you like.

DSC08638I actually found these salad greens that I have never tried before. It’s called lamb’s lettuce and is grown in Germany and throughout Europe. Six or more leaves grow from one stem.

DSC08677It is called lamb’s lettuce because the small leaves resemble sheep’s tongue.

DSC08597With a drizzle of Balsamic Dressing (1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon honey, a small clove of minced garlic (optional), 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper) over the leaves, I then added the butternut salad on top. So many options and so very yummy!

DSC08681

In case you’re interested here’s where my inspiration comes from.

IMG_3322And of course, making a visit to Homemade also helps.

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8 thoughts on “Basking in Butternut

  1. Hi Archie, I sent Lan a copy in August. Hopefully you can get a peek at her house. We really like the Tuscan-Style Marinated Chicken with Couscous, Cottage Pie, Chocolate & Hazelnut Drops and her Baked Ricotta Cake. There’s still a whole lot more I’ve flagged. Can’t wait to try…yes I look forward to seeing the Christmas Markets too. As always, thanks for reading!

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  2. fabulous recipe. I check out Clodagh’s recipe books and also you tubed her. i truly like her style of cooking and she’s also beautiful. I will add Dublin in my places to visit. I have a gf that moved to London due to her husband’s job. Relocating for 2 years so while she’s in London, i plan to visit with her. she will be going to Berlin to check out the christmas market. thanks for sharing and posting yummy recipes.

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  3. Love the salad, I just Actually used some butternut squash in my shepherd’s pie topping. I’ll be trying this salad this week. Have not seen lamb lettuce here, but I’m sure arugula/rocket will be great with it too. Thanks Vern, you have inspired me!!!

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  4. Vern…you have found your passion and I am delighted to see you following and living it. Your writing is well done, your fotos are colourful and the recipes are easy to follow.
    I get excited when I see your name in my inbox.
    Keep living your dream! My heart sings for you.
    Warm hugs
    Shirl

    Liked by 1 person

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