Molasses : Bitter, sweet & good for you...?
Molasses. So it turns out the end product of the sugar refining process actually contains those much sought after antioxidants, as well as being rich in Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Copper, Vitamin B6, Manganese and Potassium. Especcially the Blackstrap variety, which made it's way onto our shelves last week.
Curiosity sparked after learning about all these health benefits, I scoured for recipes containing Molasses, and some easy ways to add it into my diet. Adding it to porridge in the mornings is a good tip, and if you like the taste you'll probably enjoy it that way. I read a lot (hundreds) of gingerbread recipes, but I'm a savoury recipe gal at heart. So I experimented yesterday with a few ingredients to make a warm salad that put Molasses in the spotlight.
Bittersweet Butternut Salad
Fresh: Butternut squash - 1 red pepper - 1 red onion - 1 red chilli - small bunch coriander - handful of spinach - lemon
Cupboard: 1 cup buckwheat - 1/4 cup red quinoa - 1 tbsp sesame seeds - 1 tbsp hemp seeds - 1 tbsp sunflower seeds - 2 tbsp pine nuts - 1 tbsp molasses - 1 tbsp coconut oil - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar - 2 tbsp olive oil - salt & pepper
Toast all the seeds and pine nuts : I just put them all in a frying pan without any oil and watch them closely until they start to brown a little and smell delicious. Put in a little bowl to one side.
Toast the buckwheat and quinoa: Same again, the grains might start to pop, they're done then. Put in a bowl to one side ready for cooking later.
Stick the oven on: 220 degrees should do the job.
Boil your butternut: Peel and chop your squash into large pieces (1" x 1"). Bring a pan of water to the boil and put the pieces in, reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Drain water.
Chop the veg: While the butternut is simmering, finely slice the red onion and pepper and put to one side. In the frying pan you toasted the nuts in, roughly chop your spinach and pop it in on a high heat for 1-2 minutes to wilt slightly. Put that with the onion and pepper.
Add some fresh heat: Chop the coriander quite fine, and the chilli in half and then sliced finely too. Put in the bowl with the veg.
Roast: Melt the coconut oil in your roasting tin in the oven for 30 seconds, then put the butternut in and drizzle the molasses all over. You can sprinkle some salt if you like. 20 minutes should be long enough - check and turn half way through.
Boil your grain: I put three times the amount of water in the pan to the amount of grain to be cooked. Bring water to the boil, put the buckwheat/quinoa in, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and leave to one side in a bowl covered with tinfoil.
Cheese: I sprinkle loads of black pepper onto the block of feta while it's still whole, then chop it into 1cm size bits.
Assemble: Add the butternut and grains to your bowl full of veg and mix gently together.
Drizzle: I used to combine salad dressing but now I prefer to put it all on separate so... squeeze the lemon over it, drizzle the olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and and tiny bit of pepper - taste as you go. Then to finish I mix together the balsamic with 1/2 tbsp of molasses, if you can't get it to mix easily just heat it ever so gently in a pan. This gives you a nice balsamic glaze. Pour over.
Serve: So the feta doesn't crumble everywhere I served a generous spoonful of the salad onto a plate, then added the feta, and finished by sprinkling the toasted seeds on top.