A salad of spiced roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and honey roasted walnuts
So it turns out you can makes friends with salad.
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.
Combine potatoes with spices and olive oil and season well
Roast for 20-30 minutes
For the vinaigrette
Combine everything in a jar and give a good shake
For the walnuts
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.)
Toss the walnuts with the mix then spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper (less mess)
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
(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:
Combine the vinaigrette with the lentils
Combine the sweet potatoes, lentils (and therefore vinaigrette), half the herbs and rocket
Scatter over the walnuts, remaining herbs and parmesan
Sydney summers are a trigger event for me which I attribute to being born in December 1972. It held the dubious honour of being the hottest month on record as well as host to the hottest Australian day on record. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday the national average temperature was 40.3THOUSAND degrees Celsius. At the moment weather forecasters in Australia are talking about a DOME OF HEAT which is COVERING THE ENTIRE CONTINENT. Just writing that sentence caused me to stop, shake out my hands, take a deep breath and reassure myself I am not going to die. (SHE LIES! DEATH IS IMMINENT)
There are not enough words for me to adequately express my comprehensive dissatisfaction with the concept and reality of summer. The word itself is a fine example of latin, greek, gaelic and chinese derivatives coming together as not one of them could generate a word off their own bat to truly describe a three month period that delivered sweat, chaffing and clothing with inadequate skin coverage. It is unacceptable.
As we approach summerhell Australians have a competition to see which broadcaster or media outlet will use the phrase “tinderbox” first. We have a record of savage bushfires which are remembered decades later with a reverence normally reserved for the horse race, remembrance and invasion day. It was Tasmania’s turn last week with more than 100 houses razed and 100 people still unaccounted for. One death is too many due to a bushfire but Tasmania is not a big state. Such loss is profound.
In the midst of our own Hades Day yesterday I somehow mustered energy to make a proper dinner for the first time in what felt like months. I know it hasn’t been months but it occurred to me that about 80% if the boys’ diet in the last month has been Fruit Loops* and 2-minute noodles. As my mate Jane said, palm oil and sugar, the food stuffs of champions.
I instagramed the shit out of because, quite frankly, that’s what I do and if we’re NOT instagraming the shit out of dinner then did we really have dinner at all?
A lovely follower @clareanna01 left a message on the pic:
Please tell me that you made this and that you will add it to your recipe list on your blog? It’s been a sh*thouse [isn’t that adorable, she did that asterix] couple of weeks down in Tassie and for the first time since last Thurs (when the bushfires started) you’ve made me hungry.
I promised her I’d post the recipes that night and then promptly fell into a codeine induced coma (until I woke up and read from about 1am to 4am because I AM READING AGAIN, thank you Nexus table that I got for my 40th!). Nice work Kim, bring someone traumatised back to the table, make promises and then leave them hungry.
So here we go, a day late but here. A dinner for hot summer nights.
Lime and mint chicken
1kg chicken thighs, cut into strips (depending on how big they are)
1 lime, cut into rough wedges which you then, using your hands, squeeze the juice out of over the chicken and then add the rinds to the bowl
couple of garlic cloves you’ve just smashed with the side of a knife so you can lose the skins
handful of sprigs of mint you’ve roughly torn up or chopped
pinch of salt, couple of turns of the pepper grinder and a few lugs of olive oil
Get your hands in there and smoosh it all together then let it marinate for as long as you’ve got – I gave it a couple of hours in a rare moment of foresight.
Cook on the bbq until done.
I have no idea if this salad is an Australian invention. It smacks of something that Americans would go giddy over and I really don’t want it to be something this country can claim ownership of. It is NOT in the league of the lamington, the pavlova or the ANZAC biscuit although granted it is just as addictive.
It’s officially called Chang’s Noodle Salad I call it The Bogan Salad because COME ON, the ONLY salad ingredient in this is the wombok cabbage. There are shallots in it as well but let’s face it, that we’re listing that as evidence it is a salad is evidence THIS IS NOT A SALAD. What it is is a vehicle for fried noodles, toasted nuts and a dressing made of a LOT of oil, sugar and some more oil.
Hence, bogan salad.
1/2 wombok cabbages, finely shredded
125g packed slivered almonds, toasted
4 shallots, finely sliced
1 packet Chang’s fried noodles
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2tbsp soy sauce
2tsp sesame oil
Combine the “salad” ingredients in a bowl
Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t try to see if you can reduce the sugar amounts or the oil, just embrace it for what it is and don’t make it every day.
Combine and eat until your head falls off.
Jamie Oliver’s quick pickled cucumber salad
Now, there’s a cucumber salad in the same vein in both Jamie’s 30-minute and his 15-minute meals books. The 30-minute meal one is better and this is the recipe from that book.
1 telegraph cucumber that you’ve peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
a thumb size piece of ginger, about 2cm – although use less depending on your love of ginger
3tbsp olive oil (I don’t bother with this at all anymore)
1tbsp soy sauce
1tsp sesame oil
fresh red chilli – if you want to
Mix the dressing stuff together – and have a taste – add a bit more soy or lime depending on how it tastes. I tend to hold back on the ginger and then add more if it needs it.
Just before you’re going to sit down to eat, toss the ribbons of cucumber in the dressing and sprinkle with coriander all fancy like.
Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meals coconut buns
OK, I have to fess up. Someone posted a pic of these on Instagram the night before and all of the above was made basically so I could make – and eat – these. Offering up these little puppies shifts a pretty tasty but fairly normal dinner in this house to fancy, fancy, fancy, f-fancy. And look, I know I say these things are a snap and those of you less comfortable in the kitchen roll your eyes and say on the inside, like I’m ever going to make that.
You need to make these. They’re not that coconutty which I found disappointing. I suspect it’s because he uses light coconut milk but I’m really just guessing. Next time I am contemplating putting a few drops of coconut essence in as well. We shall see.
Now, Jamie whips the dough up in a food processor which is just madness. I LOVE my food processor but hate having to wash it up with a passion I normally reserve for Mythbusters. It’s a ridiculous avoidance-inducing hatred because really, it’s not that hard to wash up. I think it’s a shape thing. Let’s file this under #notsane and not mention it again.
Basically the dough is a SNAP – very similar to that I use for the spring onion (or shallots) pancakes and you can whip it up by hand in minutes without having to wash up weird food processor bowls and lids with funnels. They’re doughy – you’re going to tear a bit off, whack a bit of chicken on it with a piece of gingery vinergary cucumber and forget that it’s still 38C at 7:30pm.
400ml tin of lite coconut milk
2 tinfuls of SR flour
pinch of salt
Combine everything until it comes together and knead it slightly until it’s smooth. This is not like a bread or pizza dough, I’m talking like a minute or two. In hindsight I probably could have kneaded mine for a minute or two longer but seriously, COCONUT BUNS!
Roll it into a log, cut it into 8 pieces and roll them into balls.
Place each one inside 2 muffin cases then in an Asian steamer – I didn’t have muffin cases so just bunged them in the steamer that I’d lined with baking paper. Worked a charm.
Then steam them for about 7-8 minutes. You’ll know if they’re done by just pulling them apart slightly and seeing if they’re cooked or still doughy.
It actually feels criminal calling that a recipe.
So there you have it. The perfect dinner for hot summer nights.
*only ever purchased in the holidays and this time around conveniently on special. At last count I think we’d gone through eight boxes.