Spiced sweet potato, puy lentils and rocket salad with honey-roasted walnuts

Spiced sweet potato, puy lentil, rocket and honey roasted walnuts

This is a wonderful winter salad with its warming spices, and the honey-roasted walnuts are stupendously good. Make a double batch of the walnuts, because they are good to snack on: throw into other salads or as a spicy sweet topping on yoghurt and fruit for breakfast. I made this salad on the weekend for a friend’s party – it was a night-time barbecue and the lighting wasn’t that good in the backyard. Everyone was eating a bit blind but this salad stood out with distinction because of the different textures and the crunchy, spicy, sweetness of the walnuts – which is just what you need for a winter-time barbecue. But, seriously, don’t wait to make this salad before roasting up a batch of these walnuts, because they are good just on their own.

Spiced sweet potato, puy lentil and rocket salad with roasted honey walnuts

Mike McEnearney from Kitchen by Mike, has a good tip for cooking lentils for salads. Mike soaks the lentils overnight and then steams them, which gives you tender, light but not soggy lentils, which is perfect for salads.

Spiced sweet potato, puy lentils & rocket salad with honey roasted walnuts

Spiced sweet potato, puy lentils and rocket salad with honey-roasted walnuts

Adapted from Community by Hetty Mckinnon

This makes a lot of salad, serving 4 – 6 as a main course. If you are feeding a smaller crowd halve the recipe.

  • 3 large orange sweet potatoes (2 kilograms) peeled and cut into 2-centimetre cubes
  • 3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of allspice
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 250 grams of puy lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup soft herbs (any combination of mint, parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives, dill, or coriander – whatever you have available)
  • 2 cups of baby rocket leaves
  • 50 grams of Parmesan cheese, shaved.

Sweet vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper.

Honey-roasted walnuts

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • ½ teaspoon tumeric
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 cups of walnuts.
  1. Soak lentils overnight in plenty of water.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  3. Drain lentils and steam over simmering water for 25 minutes or until tender. Alternatively simmer soaked lentils in water for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Dress lentils while still warm with vinaigrette.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together sweet potato cubes and spices – nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper and salt with olive oil. Spread out on two baking trays and bake sweet potato for 25–35 minutes, until sweet potato is tender and slightly golden.
  7. To roast the walnuts, mix together honey, dried chilli flakes, tumeric, a pinch of salt and add just enough water to make a thick paste. Coat walnuts with paste and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast walnuts for about 15 minutes (stirring half way through) until walnuts are crunchy and almost dry – they will be slightly sticky but that is okay.
  8. Finely chop whatever combination of soft herbs you have available.
  9. Combine half of the herbs with rocket sweet potato and lentils and season to taste. To serve, scatter over the walnuts, remaining herbs and shaved Parmesan cheese.
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