All posts filed under “salads

Roast Sweet Potato with Quinoa, Pomegranate, Walnut & Herbs

I remember quite vividly my childhood spent in Shanghai, although the  rambunctious city of my memories is quite different to the buzzing mad metropolis it is nowadays. Both sets of my grandparents lived a few blocks from each other and during the wet and miserable winters the walk between the two apartments were always punctuated by the amazing smells of the street food along the way. One of my favourite treats was a freshly roasted sweet potato pulled straight out from a giant  oil drum by the street vendor, piping hot, I would devour it right then and there, my 5 year old face giddily hidden behind the steam and mess of orange flesh.

It was one of many street side snacks available and it’s something that I really miss in Australia. Last week I was walking through the city after work, and stomach grumbling,  I surveyed my options, but the ubiquitous froyo, bubble tea and usual fast food options just didn’t seem to  appeal. What I really wished for was some small street snack, a skewer of something, a roast potato, a steamed bun…Alas non were to be found.

Anyway my love for the sweet potato hasn’t really abated since… this is another random salad of mine,  combining whatever was left in the fridge and cupboards for the weekday lunch. If you can’t find Vincotto (usually delis or grocers should have it) you can substitute with caramelised balsamic or regular balsamic vinegar mixed with a generous amount of honey.

Roast Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Pomegranate, Walnut & Herb Salad

Roast Sweet Potato with Quinoa, Pomegranate, Walnut & Herbs

(Serves 3-4)

3 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup quinoa (I used red)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup of walnut halves toasted & roughly broken up
1 bunch mint
1 bunch parsley


2 tablespoons Vincotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic Vinegar
1.5 tablespoons hot English mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cover the sweet potatoes in foil and roast in a pan at 180C (356F) for 30min or until soft when skewered. I tend to be pretty blasé about this step, just throw the potatoes in the oven and come back later once you’ve cooked the quinoa.

Rinse quinoa thoroughly, then with 1 cup of water (or stock), bring to boil in saucepan, turn heat down and simmer for 10-15min or until quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid. Cover and let sit for 5-10min. Then spread the quinoa on a plate and let cool.

Once the sweet potatoes are done, let them cool and chop into largish chunks.

Roughly chop the mint and parsley.

Combine the ingredients for the dressing and mix well.

Once the quinoa and sweet potatoes are room temperature, combine the salad elements together and then drizzle generously with the dressing. Finish with some extra mint and parsley leaves.

If you’re short of time and want to serve the salad immediately then you can turn into into a warm salad by not waiting for the quinoa and sweet potatoes to cool. Win win…

Roast Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Pomegranate, Walnut & Herb Salad
Roast Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Pomegranate, Walnut & Herb Salad
Roast Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Pomegranate, Walnut & Herb Salad

Vietnamese Inspired Mushroom Salad

I first met Frances when we both played under 14 representative basketball together, she was 11, I was 12 and newly recruited for the last half of the season. Half the time I had no clue what I was doing, I had the speed, gall and talent but uncoached and directionless, I was ultimately pretty useless. Frances had way more athletic talent and also had the benefit of reps experience and thus she was actually good. Our team did end up winning the 1998 Sydney U14 division 2 championships that year (I still have the trophy and t-shirt to prove it). But sadly that also was the last HURRAH in my very short rep career.

Anyway the next year Francis also joined my high school and later on followed her passion for snowboarding, making it onto the Australian team. As I left school behind, we went our separate ways and didn’t meet again until almost a decade later.

And would you believe it…it was through tennis….at the 2011 Australian Open. It’s curious how life works out, we’re usually too busy to make time or to seek out people beyond our usual friendship or work circles but when fate aligns, I love randomly catching up with someone I haven’t seen since we were kids.

So in the intervening years, professional snowboarding didn’t quite work out and Frances actually went to a Spanish tennis academy and upon returning to Australia carved a career as a top flight youth tennis coach.

We got sick of bumping into each other only at the Australian Open, so this year we decided to make more of an effort to actually catchup during the year. So in between Frances’ busy surfie lifestyle and my laziness we did manage to make time for the occasional Sunday lunch. It’s also awesome having someone to test recipes on. This following effort is…I’m proud to say, entirely my own invention!

Vietnamese Style Mushroom Salad.

Vietnamese Inspired Mushroom Salad

Serves 3-4

1 cup Shittake Mushrooms
1 cup of Enoki Mushrooms
2 King mushrooms
2 small cucumbers
handful of bean sprouts
handful crushed peanuts
1/2 small bunch of coriander (cilantro)
1/2 small bunch of Vietnamese mint
1 small chilli
crispy shallots to serve


3 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 small chilli (roughly chopped)
1 clove garlic (roughly chopped)

Make the dressing first by combining the ingredients.

Wash and roughly chop all the mushrooms. Lightly sauté the mushrooms with a splash of oil on medium heat (until barely cooked). Set aside and cool.

Chop cucumbers into stick segments. Finely chop chilli. Roughly chop the herbs.

Toss everything together, dress to taste (I usually use around 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing). Garnish with crispy shallots or extra crushed peanuts.

Vietnamese Style Mushroom Salad.
Vietnamese Style Mushroom Salad.
Vietnamese Style Mushroom Salad.

Watercress, pear, fig, walnut & pomegranate salad

watercress, walnut, pear, fig & pomegranate salad
Cooking is all about flavour combinations. It’s about understanding how to put ingredients together to make an explosion of complimentary salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami flavours. Once you understand these flavours, you can’t unlearn it, and the best thing is that you’ll be able to cook without recipes and still be able to make awesome food. For this salad I went a bit overboard with some classic duo combos like:

Watercress & Pear
Fig & Walnut
Pomegranate & Walnut
Pear & Fig
Pear & Walnut
Pomegranate & Fig

Any of the above duos would work normally but putting all 4 ingredients together should work nicely as well….well I thought so anyway, try for yourself.
watercress, walnut, pear, fig & pomegranate salad

Salad (serves 2)

1 bunch of watercress (destemmed and roughly chopped)
1 pear (cored and sliced thinly)
2 figs (sliced)
1 handful of pomegranate seeds
1 handful of walnut kernels (toasted)


1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Vincotto (Or you can subsitute with caramalised Balsamic)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the salad ingredients together. Add dressing to taste. Add a dollop/piece of soft cheese (I’ve used cottage here) to finish.

Eating something tasty and healthy can’t be simpler than that.
watercress, walnut, pear, fig & pomegranate salad

A Salad of Beetroot, Heirloom Tomatoes, Coriander, Pickled Onions, Jamon & Taleggio with Roast Garlic Avocado Puree

Food Experiments

You don’t win friends with salad?

Well…you can definitley make some friends with this one…

I’ve adapted this recipe from The Kitchy Kitchen. I think making the beets a day or two ahead and allowing them to pickle a little gives them a richer flavour.

Also I’ve broken the salad into parts, as the beetroot and avocado puree could be made ahead of time, and both can be kept up to a week in the fridge. What I love about salads is combining the best things from the fridge whenever you feel like and tucking in.

Food Experiments


A Salad of Beetroot, Heirloom Tomatoes, Coriander, Pickled Onions, Jamon & Taleggio with Roast Garlic Avocado Puree

serves 4

4  medium to large beetroot heads
1 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Turn oven to 180C/356F. Cover each individual  beetroot in aluminium foil and bake in a roasting pan (you don’t want to turn the floor of your oven purple) for around 45min or until you can pierce through it easily with a knife.
If you’re making this on the same day as avocado puree, then I’d put the garlic for the puree in its own aluminium foil and bake with the beetroot. Saves time.

1 large very ripe avocado
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of garlic roasted
lime juice
salt & pepper

If you haven’t roasted the garlic above, then cover with aluminium foil and bake in oven at 180C/356F for 30min or until brown and fragrant.
In a food processor, blitz the avocado, oil and garlic until smooth, add lime juice, salt & pepper to taste.

handful of coriander (cilantro)
punnet of  cherry heirloom tomatoes
12 pickled cocktail onions
8 strips Jamon Serrano
4 good slices of Taleggio

Roughly halve the tomatoes and tear up the coriander and Jamon.
On each serving plate, spread a dollop of the roast garlic avocado puree then cover with beetroot, onions, coriander, tomatoes, Jamon and top with Taleggio.

ATTACK with some good sourdough BOOYAH!!!!


Food Experiments

Food Experiments