© David Loftus
roasted squash and beef carpaccio
Traditionally carpaccio is served completely raw, but I’m searing my beef to give it colour and make it a bit ragged. Cooking it a little will also help to get more fans on your side. I’ve gone heavy on the rosemary as teamed with beef they’re like Romeo and Juliet – completely in love. This will make a really sophisticated starter, a great lunch and will even work as a snack. It’s a real showstopper.
1. Preheat your oven to 190C/gas 5 . Wash your squash then carefully cut it in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Pick through them and save a small handful, discarding the rest and picking off all the fleshy pulp. Add them to a small pan with a lug of olive oil and fry until golden. Keep to one side.
2. Cut your squash halves into wedges and add to a roasting tray. In a pestle and mortar, bash up the fennel and coriander seeds, dried chilli and oregano with a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper until fine. Tip these spices all over the squash, then scatter over the cinnamon. Crumble your chestnuts directly into the tray, then drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat everything. Toss it all together with your hands and pop in the hot oven to cook for 30 to 45 minutes until beautiful, golden, and soft when you pinch it.
3. When the squash is done, sprinkle over a little salt from a height and carefully tip the golden seeds into the tray, leaving the oil behind in the pan. If you wanted, you could cook your squash ahead of time and simply reheat it when you’re ready to eat. The beef can be seared ahead of time too.
4. Put your rosemary leaves on a board with a good pinch of salt and pepper and finely chop it all together. Roll your beef about on the board until it’s well coated in the rosemary. Return your pan of oil to a high heat, and once its screaming hot, add the beef. Sear it for about a minute to a minute and a half, so it browns, then turn it over and do the same on the other side. Remember you’re just searing it to get a bit of colour on the outside, not cooking it – it should be blue in the middle.
5. Meanwhile, make your dressing. Add the mustard, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to a bowl or mortar and mix well. Have a little taste and check the seasoning then put aside.
6. With a really sharp knife, slice the beef up as thinly as you can without hacking it up or ruining it! Go thicker to do it nicely if you need to. Use the back of a knife to carefully flatten out each slice of beef, then transfer them to a large platter. Sprinkle with a little salt, as the seasoning won’t have got through to the centre of the beef. Arrange your squash pieces over the top, then crumble over the roasted chestnuts and scatter over the seeds. Drizzle everything with a bit of that wonderful dressing, then lightly dress your salad leaves and pop these on the top. Take it to the table with a block of Parmesan for shaving over so that everyone can help themselves.
serves: 4 as a main
• 1 large butternut or onion squash
• olive oil
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
• 1 dried red chilli, roughly chopped
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a pinch of ground cinnamon
• 100g vac-packed chestnuts
• ½ a bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
• 350g beef fillet, in one piece
• 1 heaped tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• juice of ½ a lemon
• 4 handfuls of light and interesting salad leaves, such as mustard cress, radicchio or watercress, washed and spun dry
• Parmesan cheese