This salad does not have to be only spinach, it can be a mixture of any dark leaves. If you can include some bitter ones like chicory or rocket it will add to the depth of flavour. I used mostly spinach, three shredded chicory leaves and some watercress.
If your leaves are tough, then you will need to boil them in water for five or ten minutes until they are tender but still with a bite.
If the leaves are very tender then blanch them by pouring boiling water over them and then leave them for a couple of minutes before draining the water away.
The dressing is raw and made in the food processor.
Bunch of fresh mint leaves
1 clove garlic – roughly chopped
fresh ginger – 2 x 2 x 2 cm – roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon smooth mustard
2 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
fresh chilli – roughly chopped
Whizz these ingredients together, then add to the warm leaves. Mix well and leave to marinate for about an hour before serving.
Dal or lentils have the second highest protein content of pulses after soy beans, and more importantly are very tasty. There are many recipes for dal using a variety of ingredients, so you can adapt to whatever you may have ready in your veg garden or fridge.
The dal are generally boiled with flavourings and then once cooked a fried spice mix is added to complete the flavouring. My regular readers will already know that I am a great fan of soaking dried pulses and grains for several hours or overnight. I find that this way the centre of the pulse is already softened so then they cook more evenly and quickly.
For 4 portions
70 grams green lentils/ Pardinas
70 grams moong dal/mung beans
50 grams white lentils
125 ml tomato passata / tomato frito
125 grams butternut squash cut into small cubes
Piece of fresh ginger 2x2x2 cm – chopped
1 small green chilli – chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the finishing spice
2 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
8 curry leaves
3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
piece of ginger 2 x 2 x 4 cm – finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
Put the lentils and beans in a container with a generous amount of cold water to allow for absorption. Leave for alt least four hours.
Once the lentils are soaked, drain and put in a pan with the passata, ginger, chilli, butternut squash and salt. Add water to cover.
Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer.
Check the water level from time to time and add more if needed. You want a fairly wet mix and some of the lentils will break up into the liquid and thicken it.
The lentils should take around 40 minutes to cook through, so check them after this time. If you prefer your curry to be a softer purée, then continue cooking a little longer.
Once the lentils are about done, prepare the spice mix.
Heat the oil in a shallow pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, then the curry leaves. Fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the garlic an ginger and fry for a few more minutes until the garlic is lightly browned.
Stir in the turmeric, coriander and asafoetida, then add the spice mix to the pan of lentils.
Stir well to mix in an leave to cook for another five minutes for the flavours to mix.
I served my curry with plain boiled brown rice, spicy spinach salad, a fresh peach chutney and pickles. So tasty! I’ll give you the recipe or the spinach salad and peach chutney tomorrow.
In this summer heat, lunch for your friends wants to be a light and fresh affair, Watermelon Gazpacho followed by three salads served with freshly homemade bread. To finish a small pot each of intense dark chocolate sorbet and crispy ginger biscuits.
BEETROOT & RADICCIO SALAD WITH PURPLE BASIL
The beetroot was roasted for an hour with whole cloves of garlic, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, sprigs of fresh oregano and olive oil, season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Let the beetroot cool before mixing with shredded chicory and purple basil leaves.
LENTIL & POMEGRANATE SALAD WITH FRESH CORIANDER
His salad is cooked green lentils, a good amount of the little pomegranate jewels that I have plenty of in the garden this year, then finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes and celery. Add a generous amount of roughly chopped coriander leaves and dress lightly with lime juice and olive oil.
I’m a fan of soaking dried grains so that when you come to cooking the grains are already re moistened in the centre, and so require less cooking. Pour boiling water over the lentils and leave an hour or so to steep before cooking until just tender. Drain the lentils and let them cool before adding them to the salad.
SALAD OF FRESH FIGS, ROASTED RED ONIONS AND HAZELNUTS
This is a Yotam Ottolengi recipe which has a lovely contrast of flavours with the sweet roasted red onions and figs, and the peppery watercress and rocket. His recipe uses radiccio rather than rocket, but as I have both I decided that the more peppery rocket suited this recipe better. I was surprised to find that what I thought was weeds in my vegetable patch is actually rocket, and it hasn’t become overly peppery in the strong Spanish heat. I haven’t used roasted red onions in a salad before, and I have to say, I’m a total convert. I shall be roasting a tray full regularly so that I have them at the ready in the fridge.
This amount serves 4
2 small red onions – peel them and cut each into 6 wedges
50 grams hazelnuts with skin / or ready dry roasted unseasoned hazelnuts
1/2 small head of radicchio / or a similar amount of rocket
good bunch of fresh basil – either the green or purple
bunch of watercress with the stems removed
6 ripe fresh figs, cut into quarters
Roast the onions drizzled with olive oil at 180 C for 30 minutes. Leave to cool.
If you are roasting hazelnuts, turn the oven down to 140, and once it has reached this temperature, spread the hazelnuts in a shallow pan and roast for 20 minutes. Leave to cool then break up into pieces with a pestle and mortar. If you are using the ready roasted hazelnuts break these up as above.
To put the salad together, start with the leaves, rip them into pieces and put in a large bowl, add the onions and figs.
Dress with the oil and vinegar and gently toss. I like to do this with my hands as it’s more gentle than using implements.