Sunday, 30 November 2014

Roasted sweet potato, lentil salad with feta and spiced pumpkin seeds

Salads! Not really my cup of tea. At least not the leafy green Dutch versions I got to know as a kid. Made of lettuce and variety of toppings such as tomatoes, paprika, sweet corn of cucumber, raw onion and croutons, dressed with a vinaigrette or a creamy mayo dressing. Yuk, cold shivers are running down my spine by just thinking of it.

It took me quite a while to convince myself that a salad could be so much more than that. Instead of lettuce as a core ingredient I like mine more rustic. With legumes, grains or seeds or a nice combination of those as a base to start from most of the times. Adding raw (during summer) or roasted vegs (during the colder days), fresh herbs and a lovely dressing to infuse all the flavours. And when I am overindulging I will throw in some proteins, like a some sort of cheese or boiled or poached egg, and finish with some toasted seeds for a little crisp.  Which altogether will make it a nourishing and complete meal.

This recipe is starring the glorious sweet potato. Sweet potatoes a wonderful creation of nature. While being sweet and starchy and therefore really counting as a comfort food. Bus as we all know most comfort foods aren’t all that healthy most of the time. Surprisingly not the sweet potato. Hurray! Packed with vitamin A (beta-carotene, which is an anti-oxidant) and reduces inflammation by influencing our blood composition (reducing the fibrinogen levels). They are potentially improving blood sugar levels by increasing the levels of adiponectin (a protein hormone) which serves as an important modifier in the insulin metabolism. And storage proteins, called sporamins (antioxidants), get produces when the potato gets damaged and help the plant heal from this damage. So by eating sweet potatoes we may get some of these antioxidants benefits. (source: )

And while still a bit unknown in The Netherlands, they are quite famous the world over. So to all my fellow Dutchies: get them sweet potatoes in your diet, you deserve it!

Roasted sweet potato, lentil salad with feta and spiced pumpkins seeds (serves 1)

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or two sprigs fresh
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup beluga lentils
  • 1 handful of lamb lettuce
  • 20 g feta, crumble
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • tsp chili powder
  • Salt & pepper

Heat the oven to 200 °C. In the meantime peel and cut the potato in to cubes of 1,5 cm. Halve the garlic, no need to peel. Put in an oven proof dish together with the olive oil, thyme and garlic and give it a toss. Roast the potato for 25 minutes until soft, turn over once and give it some 5 more minutes. Remove the garlic.

Put the lentils in a pot and cover with 500ml of water (or vegetable bouillon) and cook for 20 minutes. When done: drain and rinse. Take a large bowl and mix the lentils with the potato, feta, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool down a bit.

In a small skillet toast the pumpkin seeds with the chili powder for a few minutes until crisp (if necessary use a drop of olive oil to let the chili stick to the seeds).

Assemble the salad get a large bowl of a deep dish. Spread the lettuce evenly in the dish and put the potato mixture on top. Drizzle with some balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with the spicy pumpkin seeds.

To give the salad some extra freshness you could zest a quarter of the lemon and sprinkle over the top. Put on some extra crumbled feta or a soft boiled egg for an extra treat.

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