‘I used to work in an Italian deli…’

Ben claims, I start about one-third of my sentences this way. It was a great learning experience, work ethic, climbing the mini-ranks and food education. I learned so much during my years with Wendy and the crew.

One of the my take-aways was the difference between prosciuttos- di Parma and Daniele. For this salad, we used di Parma- a much finer, less salty flavour. This was a tasty and light meal and the final spritz of lemon was a perfect finish.

Serves 4

  • 800g–1kg squash, such as crown prince, butternut or kabocha 
  • 3–4 garlic cloves (unpeeled), lightly bashed 
  • Several sprigs of thyme (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil, plus extra to serve 
  • 100g ricotta 
  • 30–40g thinly sliced parma ham or other air-dried ham 
  • A squeeze of lemon juice 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Peel and deseed the squash, then cut into big chunks. Put into a roasting dish with the garlic and a few thyme sprigs, if using. Trickle over the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for 40–50 minutes, or until the squash is tender and starting to caramelise, giving it a stir halfway through cooking. Discard the garlic and thyme and leave to cool completely.

Put the roasted squash on individual plates or a large platter.

Dot the ricotta over the top. Tear the ham into shreds and scatter over the squash and ricotta. Tear the leaves from the rest of the thyme sprigs, if you have them, and scatter over the dish.

Season with pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, then serve.

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