Tender Leaves & Roasted Vegetable Salad
Having eaten out twice last week and consumed comfort food from the freezer – albeit homemade – for lunch every day, I woke up Friday morning thinking I need something fresh and green!
So I went to the market after work to stock up on healthy ingredients and came home with two bags loaded with salad stuff and vegetables. On my way to the market I already envisioned young, tender spinach and Swiss chard leaves and sweet potato. The rest, I was sure, would come to me while shopping.
I love salads that have both warm and cold ingredients. So I knew I’d be oven-roasting the sweet potato; it would be joined by some cauliflower, broccoli and romanesco as well as a variation of an avocado dressing I had read about.
To season the vegetables before roasting I coated them with olive oil and an oriental spice mix I bought in France last year. The spice mix is made up of paprika, coriander, cumin, aniseed, fennel, ginger, pepper, parsley, mint and salt. It went very well with my vegetable selection. Of course, I’m aware no one else will have this exact spice mix at home, so naturally you can use whatever floats your boat.
The spiced vegetables also went very well with my choice of salad leaves, which was young and tender spinach leaves, Swiss chard leaves and lamb’s lettuce.
My dressing of choice was a rather impromptu creation; avocado was a given but I knew it would be too thick just puréed and by itself, so I added lime juice, a very mild white balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil and tahini paste. I was going for a thick and creamy dressing, so I used the more liquid ingredients conservatively. I also didn’t season the dressing as I wanted the taste of the avocado to be the most discernible one.
My vision of how I wanted this salad to turn out has come alive; the three parts – salad, vegetables and dressing – go perfectly together. I would definitely make this for guests as a starter, and I’m looking forward to taking the leftovers to work for lunch tomorrow, as the vegetables are equally good warm or cold.
I can also imagine sprucing this up as a lunch meal with grilled haloumi cheese or chicken breast. Come to think of it, bacon would go nicely with this as well.
The amount of ingredients mentioned in the recipe below will make 2 – 3 small portions as a starter and 1 – 2 portions as a main course. I aimed to fill my small baking tray with vegetables and to get a good vegetables : salad ratio. You can make however much fits onto your baking sheet or into your salad bowl.
Tender Leaves & Roasted Vegetable Salad
1 sweet potato
½ head of broccoli
½ head of cauliflower
½ head of romanesco
dry Oriental spices [or spice of your choice]
2 handfuls of young spinach leaves
2 handfuls of young Swiss chard leaves
1 handful of lamb’s lettuce
Cut the broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco into florets, peel the sweet potato and cut into bite-sized pieces, then put everything into a large bowl. Mix some olive oil with the dry Oriental spices, pour over the vegetables and mix well with your hands so all of the vegetables get coated with the oil and spice mix.
Place vegetables onto a baking tray, put on middle shelf of the oven and roast for 20 minutes at 200°C/400°F (fan).
Clean the salad leaves and place in a flat bowl/dish, then prepare the dressing while the vegetables are still in the oven.
juice of 1 lime
3 tsp tahini paste
2 tsp mild white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
Peel and dice the avocado, then purée with a handheld blender until it starts getting smoother. Add all other ingredients and keep on blending until as smooth as possible. The dressing should have the consistency of sour cream, thick and creamy.
Once the vegetables are done, let them cool slightly. [If they’re put on top of the salad leaves while still hot, the leaves will wither a little.] While still warm, arrange the vegetables on top of the salad leaves and serve with the avocado dressing.