Saturday, August 8, 2015

Recipe: Winter salad with roast garlic dressing

My stomach (or my mouth really) can be a contrary thing, always craving what is not in the house or is out of season, so it was no surprise really that in the middle of a cold winter day, my contrary stomach decided it really wanted salad. Not really winter food but much as I love soup, stews, curries and other comfort food, there comes a time when you just need a salad. I'm pretty sure the last couple of weeks of indulgent eating may have had something to do with the need for greens.

However, winter does not make for the best salad ingredients and despite the salad craving I still wanted something warm, so a roast veggie salad seemed the way to go and I topped it with some chicken for a protein hit but this would be equally good minus the chicken as a side for a steak or even a roast.

A warm salad is a great dinner. Warming, filling but healthy. And while winter may not be a great time for salad veggies like tomato, many lettuces like it. My backyard rocket patch has gone crazy allowing for a great green base.

When thinking of a dressing to accompany the richness of all those roast veggies, a garlic vinaigrette came to mind but to complement the roast taste, I roasted the garlic. The soft, delicately roasted garlic pretty much dissolves when you shake it like crazy with the rest of your dressing ingredients. Just be sure to not add any leftover chunks of garlic to the final salad.

This amount makes a great dinner for 2, or a side for 4.

Winter salad with roast garlic dressing
2 potatoes peeled and chopped into 3cm cubes
2 carrots chopped in half lengthwise, then into 2cm lengths
1 medium eggplant chopped into 4cm cubes
1/4 pumpkin chopped into cubes
1 capsicum cut into 3cm squares
1 leek thinly sliced
a chicken breast
a couple of handfuls of rocket leaves
2 garlic cloves unpeeled
olive oil
maldon (or other flaky) sea salt
dried garlic
red wine vinegar
maple syrup

Preheat your oven with a non-stick baking tray in it to 200 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, carrots, eggplant, pumpkin and capsicum with enough olive oil to lightly cover the veggies, a couple of pinches of salt, a few shakes of oregano and dried garlic. Pour onto the pre-heated tray and arrange in a single layer.

Bake for 30-40 minutes till everything is golden and well roasted.

Meanwhile, gently fry the leek in a little olive oil until caramalised and golden.

Butterfly the chicken breast so it is an even thickness. Dust with paprika, dried garlic and oregano then fry in a little olive oil until both sides are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.

To make the dressing, pop the whole unpeeled garlic cloves on top of the other veg and roast for 10-15 minutes until just starting to ooze. Take them out of the oven and squeeze the garlic out of their cases into a jar. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Screw the top of the jar tightly and shake like crazy. The garlic should disintegrate and make a lovely creamy dressing.

To serve, in a large bowl add the rocket, roast vegetables straight from the oven, leek and enough dressing to lightly dress the salad. Toss together, then top with slices of the chicken breast.

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