Tis the season to be jolly, falalalala lala la laaa!
BYE WINTER. Spring is finally here, and I for one couldn’t be happier.
It’s light when I wake up, and it’s light when I get home from work. I wore a dress with NO TIGHTS on Saturday. The skies are blue, the clouds are fluffy, the trees are getting leafy again, and London’s cherry blossoms have taken over my Instagram feed.
But most exciting of all (to me), is being able to eat my lunch outside in the park again.
One of my goals for this year was to start cooking all my lunches for the week on a Sunday. And so far it’s going well! I’ve dropped the ball a couple of times, but mostly I’ve kept to it.
For the first couple of months, I was all about the hot stews, spicy chillis, and comforting carbs. Things that I could reheat in the office microwave, dishes that would warm my soul and make me feel cosy in the hideous grey void that is January in London.
But with the arrival of the warmer days, I want something lighter and fresher. Something like this Sunshine Pasta Salad!
I have a ridiculously early lunch hour at work (11:30am – ouch) so my lunches need to keep me going until I get home about 6:30pm. It also has to be exciting and delicious, because I know from experience that if my packed lunch is boring, I’ll ditch it and head to Pret instead.
So it’s all about the pasta for me. I LOVE pasta for dinner, and I love it cold for lunch. Throw in some extra ingredients and a zingy dressing, and I’m all set!
This particular Sunshine Pasta Salad involves caramelised butternut squash, chunks of roasted courgette, a generous crumbling of salty feta, and a very light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.
It’s really simple, really quick, and utterly delicious.
I use frozen butternut squash, for a couple of reasons. One, I’m lazy. Two, it’s quicker. Three, it’s not THAT much more expensive than buying a whole butternut squash, but you save yourself the stress headache of having to peel it. But if you prefer using fresh, that’s absolutely fine, and I’ve added the extra instructions for you below.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to browse the summer dress section on ASOS… Byeeee.
SUNSHINE PASTA SALAD
250g dry pasta
500g butternut squash (if you’re using fresh: it’s roughly half a medium sized squash)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp thyme
A generous handful of feta cheese
1. Put a big pan of salted water on the hob to boil. Once it’s boiling, add your pasta and let it cook for 10-12 minutes until it’s cooked through but still has some bite to it. Drain, and put to one side.
2. Heat your oven to 180°C (fan-assisted). Line a baking tray with tin foil. If you’re using fresh butternut squash, peel it and chop it into rough chunks.
3. Scatter the squash over the tin foiled tray and drizzle with one tbsp of the oil and one tbsp of the lemon juice. Once the oven is hot, pop the butternut squash in the oven. Meanwhile, slice off the ends of your courgettes and chop into rough chunks.
4. After the squash has been cooking for 20 minutes, take it out of the oven. Add the courgette to the tray, along with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, and all the thyme. Give everything a good stir so all the veg is coated, then return to the oven for another 25 minutes, until the veg is fork tender and starting to caramelise around the edges.
5. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together the last tbsp of oil and lemon juice, with a pinch of salt, some cracked black pepper, and any juices from the veg roasting tray.
6. In a big bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the butternut squash, courgette, and dressing. Give it all a good stir so everything is coated, then crumble the feta over the top before serving.