I am part of a book group of 10 women that usually meet on a monthly basis and I have made this salad albeit with different grains (eg spelt, freekeh) and dressings a few times. The vegetables have also been varied according to the seasons. One of the lovely things about our book group is that we all bring a different dish – sweet or savoury. It is an utter gastronomic delight! Whilst enjoying the various foods and chatting about lots of other things, the conversation does eventually steer towards the book in question.

The hasselback version was made for the last meeting, it looked quite spectacular. Any leftovers of this salad made a great lunch. I saw this particular recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine this year and a variation in Bon Appetit. I have adapted the recipe slightly.

Alternatively you can simply slice the butternut squash.



Sprouted mung beans – I make my own and it’s very easy to do. Recipe to follow shortly. If unavailable, substitute for “Good4USupersprouts” which are available in most supermarkets.

Serves 6

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Vegetarian or vegan if you omit butter for hasselback recipe

Freezing – not suitable

Tip: to  save time, both the pesto and pearl barley can be prepared in advance, I then re-heat the pearl barley just before serving.


1 butternut squash

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

4 fat cloves of garlic, chopped

Good pinch of chilli flakes

2 heaped teaspoons of coriander seeds

300g pearl barley

2 leeks (white part only) sliced into julienne pieces

Olive/rapeseed oil to brush the butternut squash and to fry the leeks

For the parsley pesto

50g parsley (leaves only)

75ml rapeseed oil

3 cloves garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice (I always use unwaxed lemons)

Freshly ground pepper

Dash of Tabasco or any other chilli sauce

Place all ingredients into a food processer, blitz to a paste. Taste and adjust seasoning according to taste. This pesto will keep in a jar in the fridge for a few days (it is great on cheese on toast or on other roasted vegetables!)

The delicious parsley pesto



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius, peel the butternut squash, and get rid of the seeds and pith. Put the 2 halves cut side down in a baking tray that has been lined with greaseproof paper. Brush with some olive oil on both sides, and give it a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast until it has softened but not completely cooked; this should take approximately 35 – 40 mins depending on the size of the squash.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients except the coriander seeds in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Remove the squash from the oven and slice it as evenly as possible. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through. You might want to transfer it onto a chopping board if you find that is easier rather than slicing it on the baking tray. The recipe also suggests you can place the handles of 2 wooden spoons along the squash to ensure it does not cut through. Personally, I found it just as easy to slice it on the baking tray which I had placed onto a sturdy wooden chopping board.
  4. Coat the butternut squash with the garlic and chilli butter – a pastry brush is ideal to get between the slices. Dot the coriander seeds around. Pop it back into the oven for a further 10 – 15 mins, keep basting every few mins. (Please do keep a careful watch on the garlic as it can burn, so you may need to reduce the heat to 180 degrees celsius, which is what I did). Check at the end if it has cooked, otherwise you may need to give it a few more mins.

Sliced butternut squash– heat oven as above. Peel and slice into 1 inch slices, place on a baking tray lined with greaspeproof paper, drizzle with olive oil and a good grinding of salt, pepper and (chilli flakes – if using).  Bake for 30 – 35 mins, I usually swap the tray half way during the cooking time and turn the slices around.

Pearl barley– boil this in a large pan of salted boiling water (I have also used vegetable stock on occasions) until al dente, it takes about 30 mins. Strain the pearl barley and put it on to a warmed serving plate.

Leeks –meanwhile put a small amount of rapeseed oil (you can use olive oil as well) into a frying pan, and once it has heated, throw in the julienne leeks. Keep the heat high, you want them to char a bit, stir the whole time and remove from the pan after a couple of minutes.

To assemble the salad (a large oval dish is best )

Put the warm pearl barley on to a warmed dish/plate followed by a layer of the leeks, and then finally the butternut squash. Scatter the sprouted mung or sprouts on the salad. Drizzle generously with the parsley pesto.