Roasted sweet potato, lentil and walnut salad

A salad of spiced roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and honey roasted walnuts

So it turns out you can makes friends with salad.

Sorry Homer.

This comes from Hetty McKinnon‘s book Community: salad recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen which I cannot recommend highly enough. It was the second one I cooked and there’s about ten others I’ve tagged. (Sidenote: she is now based in Brooklyn, NYC. Blackbird, get onto it.)

They are all designed as meals which I strongly endorse. That said, I have made them also cooked a protein on the side as while the boys are now pretty good (read: great) at eating/trying everything it’s quite confronting for them to think the salad is “it”.

My main tip for this recipe is don’t think the honey-roasted walnuts are optional. They lift the salad from salad to SALAD!. BUT – when cooking them watch them like a hawk, as in every 2 minutes, tossing them every time so the ones cooking more quickly on the edge get rotated with the ones in the middle. They will burn in an instant so be vigilant. BUT – totally worth it. I also followed Hettie’s suggestion to make double so you have leftovers to snack on. A brilliant idea indeed.

And as I say with so many of my posts, make it your own:

  • Don’t like rocket, use English spinach.
  • Use herbs you love or mix it up each time to create what feels like a whole new dish.
  • Don’t even be that exacting with the measurements for the spices, just scatter them over and go for it. I’m actually not the hugest fan of cumin (stinky sports socks anyone?) so upped the cinnamon and dialed down the cumin.
  • Don’t have any sweet potato in the house? Potatoes and/or pumpkin would work a treat.
  • This would also be fantastic with some diced streaky bacon or pancetta that you throw in with the roasting sweet potato for the last 10 minutes or so.

Roasted sweet potato, lentil and walnut salad
 
Spiced roasted sweet potato tossed with lentils and honey-roasted walnuts with a sweet viniagrette
Author:
Ingredients
For the sweet potatoes
  • 3 sweet potatoes (around 2kgs) cut into 2cm cubes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tins lentils, drained (I used 1 but could easily have used two) (McKinnon uses 250g Puy lentils which she cooks for 20 minutes and then drains)
  • 1 cup fresh herbs (suggestions: mint, parsley, coriander, chives, dill, tarragon)
  • Baby rocket - around 2 cups but just go on sight
  • 50 g shaved parmesan
For the vinaigrette
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
For the honey-roasted walnuts
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 cups walnuts
Instructions
For the sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Combine potatoes with spices and olive oil and season well
  3. Roast for 20-30 minutes
For the vinaigrette
  1. Combine everything in a jar and give a good shake
For the walnuts
  1. Combine the honey and spices and add some water to make a thick paste (I made this in the height of a Sydney summer so the honey was very runny and I found I didn't really need to add the water.)
  2. Toss the walnuts with the mix then spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper (less mess)
  3. Roast for 15 minutes or until the walnuts are crunchy and almost dry (Keep your eye on them and keep turn them every two minutes or so the ensure they cook evenly and don't burn. I basically work on the principal that once they had good colour they were done.)
To bring together
  1. (Because McKinnon's recipe cooks the lentils (rather than using tinned) I poured lentils, liquid and all into a bowl and cooked for a minute in the microwave to heat them up.) Then:
  2. Combine the vinaigrette with the lentils
  3. Combine the sweet potatoes, lentils (and therefore vinaigrette), half the herbs and rocket
  4. Scatter over the walnuts, remaining herbs and parmesan

 

Onward!

The Chef and I – Jamie Oliver’s spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils

Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals spiced chicken with spinach lentils recipe. The first in my new series, The Chef and I.

Welcome to the first of a new weekly series! The Chef and I will see me cook a recipe from my cookbook library. It could be a dinner, maybe a breakfast or something sweet, the idea being to a) use my cookbooks more thoroughly and b) show how a recipe plays out for a normal human.

This week I’m (finally) cooking from Jamie’s 15 minute meals. Yes yes, we all know the drill, 15 minutes when you have a staff working for you but my attitude is less the amount of time it takes you and more cooking with fresh ingredients and trying recipes you otherwise wouldn’t. This didn’t take me 15 minutes but it definitely took me less than 30. Probably closer to 20.

All my normal eaters ate it and loved it. Even the lentils. Jasper, the not normal eater, ate and loved the chicken. Small mercies.  Jamie serves it with a warmed loaf of bread to soak up the juices and I strongly urge you to do the same (I wasn’t going to bother but thought, no, do as the recipe says). It rounded out the meal beautifully. Next time I’d probably use some pita or flat breads.

Things I did differently:

  • I used an extra tomato and was glad I did
  • He seasons the chicken with 1/2 tsp cayenne, I used about 2 tsp of smoked paprika instead
  • I used streaky bacon instead of pancetta and fried it off separately after cooking the chicken whereas he adds it to the pan of the almost cooked chicken. Streaky bacon is the short bit of the bacon, my Woollies stocks the D’Orsogna brand variety of it and stocks it in the meat section of cured meats, not with the other bacon (for reasons I am yet to understand).
  • His recipe uses a bunch of asparagus that he cooks off with the chicken at the same time as the pancetta, I didn’t do this.

spiced chicken w/ bacon and spinach lentils

Spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils

Adapted from Jamie Oliver, 15 Minute Meals

The Chef and I - Jamie Oliver's spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious health dinner of spiced chicken with lentils, spinach and yoghurt
Author:
Ingredients
Lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of lentils
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
Chicken
  • 4 x skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 handful fresh thyme (or other fresh herb of your choice, tarragon would work nicely)
  • 6 rashes streaky bacon
  • crusty bread
Instructions
  1. Peel your onion and carrot and blitz in a food processor with the rosemary
  2. Put a glug or two of oil in a fry pan with high sides and start sauteing
  3. Get a really large sheet of baking paper out on your bench. Scatter over a generous amount of salt, pepper and the paprika. Rub into the chicken all over (if you've been generous there's enough for both sides and a good rub into the chicken).
  4. Fold the baking paper over the top of the chicken (I told you it needed to be a big sheet) then get a rolling pin and bash it to about 1.5 cm thick. (I didn't do it thin enough so it took longer to cook for me)
  5. Get another fry pan on with a glug of oil then add the garlic cloves, the herbs and the chicken. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side until nicely golden and cooked through.
  6. Back to the veg in the other pan, add the two tins of lentils with the water they're in (ie don't drain them) and the tomatoes which you've chopped up roughly (I just blitzed them to chunky in my little mini blender as I'd already using it for the onion and carrot. Put the lid on and leave to simmer
  7. Roughly chop the spinach in the food processor - you don't want it pulverised so just pulse it until it's shredded but not moosh. Add to the lentils with the red wine vinegar.
  8. Lift the chicken out of the pan, you might need to give it a wipe down before cooking the bacon and then fry off the bacon.
  9. Put the lentils into a wide lipped platter (it's runny so don't go and use some flat platter contraption) and dollop over the yoghurt, give it a little swirl through.
  10. Cut the chicken up on an angle and place over the top then put the bacon on top of that.
  11. Serve with crusty bread or pitas.

 

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