Monday, June 11, 2012

A Winter Salad

Hello :) It's cold. And rainy! But I'm kinda glad, as I'm spending this week studying at home, like a smart lady. I thoroughly enjoy it though, not the studying part so much, but being a homebody. Wearing my PJs all day, taking several minutes to decide which tea to brew (decisions, decisions!), dreaming up my next meal and reading novels in between studying. Don't worry, I'm cooking a plenty too! Just like this Winter Salad. It's the most marvellous combination of flavours and is perfectly wholesome.

Recipe: A Winter Salad (adapted from Vegetarian, Alice Hart) This is a deeply gratifying dish for chilly months- it offers the fresh and lively flavours of a salad, but the comfort of a more substantial meal. Keep an eye on the nuts after adding them to the roast carrots and shallots- they will burn easily. 

300g small carrots
6 shallots, halved
75mL olive oil
150g walnuts, roughly chopped
150g prunes, stoned and halved
200g faro, spelt or barley
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley leaves chopped
175g goats cheese or Danish feta...or Sydney feta (ha ha!)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Halve or thickly slice the carrots depending on their size and toss with the shallots, 2 tablespoons olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for about 25 minutes until caramelised and soft. Add the walnuts and prunes on the tray, sprinkling them evenly over the veg, and return them to the oven to toast for a further 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cover the grains with 500mL cold water in a saucepan. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat, leaving the grains to simmer merrily for 25 minutes. Are my grains merry enough!? You must keep asking yourself this question. 

When your merry grains are cooked, drain off any remaining water then cover the pan and set the grains aside.

Make the dressing by whisking the remaining olive oil, vinegar, crushed garlic and mustard together with a little salt and pepper. It should be slightly sharp to counter the sweet carrots and prunes. Combine the grains, roast carrot mixture, half the parsley and half the dressing in a serving bowl. Crumble the goats or feta cheese over the grains and vegetables, drizzle with the remaining dressing and scatter with the rest of the parsley.

What do I like about this dish? Everything really. I've been using barley a lot in vegetable soups lately, so it was nice to emphasise it in this warm salad.Never added prunes to a salad before, but it certainly gave it a lovely sweetness. And my favourite part...the mixture of goats and danish feta cheese I used. Amazing. I used coriander instead of parsley too. Because that's all I had! 

Hannah x