On an open fire:Skye likesto cook withhigh-qualitychestnuts fromsouthernEurope - ideal insalads © Lisa Barber

We have been making this salad at Petersham recently and I love it. The sweet, deep flavour of the pumpkin with the sage and chestnut is lovely and the smoky sweetness of the speck is perfect.



Serves 4

1 medium onion squash
7-8tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 dried red chilli
A small bunch of marjoram, leaves only
250g/8oz small plum or cherry tomatoes
8 very thin slices of speck
2 balls of the freshest buffalo mozzarella
12 sage leaves
12 peeled chestnuts, crumbled
1tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash into eight wedges and scrape out all the seeds with a spoon.

Lay the wedges flesh-side-up on a baking tray and drizzle with half the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper, scatter over the marjoram, crumble over the dried chilli and roast in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until soft and slightly caramelised around the edges. Halfway through cooking, place the tomatoes on another baking tray, drizzle with a little more olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven alongside the squash for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the squash and tomatoes to cool to room temperature. Next, roast the chestnuts using the method .

Divide the squash among four plates. Lay a slice of speck on top, tear the mozzarella in half with your hands and arrange over the squash. Scatter over the tomatoes, sage and chestnuts and finish with a final slice of speck.

Season with a little salt and a generous turn of the pepper mill, and drizzle over the last of the olive oil. Finish with the balsamic vinegar and serve.

Roast chestnuts

The best way to cook chestnuts is over a brazier or open fire, or you could put them over a gas flame. I find it quickest and easiest to cook them over a flat grill.

Take a sharp paring knife and make a small, cross-shaped incision at the top of each nut just under its pale hat. Place on to a hot grill (or into a special hot chestnut pan) and cook until they begin to pop and the outer husk starts to curl back.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then peel off the shell with your fingers. They are now ready to eat straight from their shells or use as part of a recipe.

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