Tuesday, 8 December 2009
You know . . . salad just isn't for summer. It took me a long time to convince Todd of that fact . . . almost as long as it took me to convince him that salads weren't just for ladies and that they could be quite delicious and interesting, given half the chance. I don't think salads were something the British did very well actually, until recent years. In the past I think they mostly consisted of a few lettuce leaves on a plate with possibly a few anemic looking slices of tomato and some cucumber thrown on top for a bit of colour . . . no dressing much to speak of . . . but perhaps a bit of salad cream, and from a little plastic squeezeable packet, which is alright . . .
but let's face it . . . quite, quite . . . b-o-r-i-n-g.
In truth, the one thing that I love most about salads, is they are really quite versatile and can be wonderfully innovative, and really . . . as fascinating, delicious and interesting as your mind, talents and bulging larder can allow them to be. They are not boring at all once you use your imagination and decide to go with the flow! They need not even be reserved just for hot days and summer!
Kind of like potatoes really.
I mean . . . look at the humble potato. Ordinary potatoes are not really all that interesting to look at on their own . . . but let's try to look at them with an open mind . . . and put aside boring for a few minutes.
There are big ones and small ones. Smooth ones and knobbly ones. Long skinny finger shaped ones, and there are brown ones, and pink ones . . . even purple ones, and the flavours !!!
Why, the the flavour of the humble potato alone, can range anywhere from earthy and spicy (and I'm talking plain and unadulterated here, with nothing added) to sweet and nutty!! What's so bland, dull and boring about that???
Don't even get me started on the different textures . . . soft, light, fluffy and dry and everything in between all the way up to waxy, with a bit of a bite . . . and that's just for starters!!!
I think you are beginning to get the picture here. . . the potato is one of the tastiest and most versatile vegetables around . . . a virtual canvas just waiting for you to paint a picture on it with your culinary wand!
So . . . . if the humble potato can be as exciting and interesting as all that, with nothing added . . . just imagine how wonderful they can be when you start to add in a few different flavours and textures . . . when you start to up their game a bit.
It's not all that hard to do.
I mean . . . tossed with a bit of oil, garlic, salt and pepper . . . and then roasted until the edges get all golden brown and caramelized and . . . it's like . . . wow!
Now, add some herbs and a tasty mustardy vinaigrette, along with some chopped onion and some crispy baby spinach leaves . . .
It's like . . . DOUBLE wow!
But . . . why stop there. Let's throw in some crispy smoked bacon, and call it a warm salad!!!!
Well . . . we just died and went to heaven . . .
So what are you waiting for?
*Warm Roasted Potato Salad*
Crisp roasted potato chunks combined with a tangy basil and lemon vinaigrette dressing make for a very tasty winter salad!!
For the potatoes:
1kg of rooster potatoes, washed, dried and cut into chunks
1 TBS oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
For the dressing:
the juice of one large lemon
2 heaped TBS of finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
for the salad:
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 bag of baby salad spinach, stems trimmed and discarded
1 200g package of dry cure smoked bacon lardons
Pre-heat the oven to 205*C/425*F. Place the potatoes onto a roasting pan. Toss with the oil, salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are tender and golden brown. Keep warm.
Cook the bacon lardons in a hot skillet until they are crispy. Set aside and keep warm.
Whisk together the lemon juice, basil, dijon mustard, salt and black pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream until completely amalgamated. Stir in the basil.
Wash and dry the spinach leaves. Trim and discard any stems. Place in a large shallow salad bowl. Toss the warm potatoes with the onion and about 4 ounces of the salad vinaigrette. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the spinach leaves, and then top with the potato mixture. Sprinkle the bacon lardons over top and serve immediately.