The barstool at a best friend’s wedding. A padded ottoman at a funky restaurant talking about all the things you shouldn’t on a first date. The sandstone wall by the river overlooking the city at night drinking a little scotch out of the chunky crystal glasses you just happened to have on hand. An antique dining set in your Nanny’s house eating the first meals we have cooked for each other and listening to Bruno Mars croon in the background. The marina steps in the cool evening air as the sea laps down below and the stars shine above. A rickety picnic table by the seaside in the wee hours playing Scrabble and colluding against your cousin. At the kitchen table in the bright mid-morning light for Sunday brunch or an indulgent Monday breakfast Scrabble match. Curled up together in a lounge chair watching old favourites or reading new favourites (His & Hers).
Dinner dished up on fine china plates, sitting cross-legged in tangled sheets while we sprout random facts about polar bears, leopards, and tigers. Laughing, holding hands, sipping whisky, chasing cheese crumbs, and sneaking kisses. Just sitting by you is where I want to be.
Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Cumin-sautéed onion, and Spinach Salad
Serves 4 as a side.
Leftovers are wonderful for lunch the next day. I re-dressed mine with some feta and semi-dried tomatoes. Chickpeas would also be a lovely addition here. Not only is this salad gluten-free, it is also vegan. Think of this as the every-person’s salad. The charming, witty host who mixes well with every guest.
- 1 medium sweet potato (250-300 grams)
- 1 medium salad onion
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups of water
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Large pinch of salt and black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 200C and line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
- Peel and dice the sweet potato and then place cubes into a medium-size bowl with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Toss together to coat the sweet potato. Tumble the coated cubes onto the lined cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until the outsides are crispy and the centres are tender. Test this using a metal or wooden skewer.
- While the sweet potato is roasting, prepare your quinoa. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly. This removes the bitter coating on the outside of the quinoa. Tip rinsed quinoa into a large saucepan and add two cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside to come to room temperature.
- While the quinoa is bubbling away and the sweet potato is roasting, you can focus on the onion. Peel and finely slice the onion and place into a small frying pan with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, the chopped fresh oregano, and ground cumin seeds. Set over a low heat and cover with a lid. Sweat for about 10 minutes, then remove the lid and allow onions to crisp up a little. Once they are done allow them to cool to room temperature.
- Once the sweet potato is roasted to tender nuggets, the quinoa has bubbled into plump little seeds, and the onion is sweated to spicy perfection, you can assemble the salad.
- Toss sweet potato, onion, quinoa, baby spinach, and pumpkin seed together; add the dressing and toss again to coat.
For the dressing: whisk together all ingredients and pour over salad.
We ate this while watching the ever-witty, ever-wonderful, most magnanimous Stephen Fry. Chris accompanied his with a mozzarella-stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped roasted chicken breast and green beans, while I skipped the chicken and just had the beans.