I have been making this salad for years. The original recipe came from somewhere, no doubt, but I have changed it so many times (and still do) that I am at a loss as to who came up with it or whether it could still be considered true to the original. All the amounts seen below are just a guide – if you have more spinach, use it. If you don’t have pumpkin seeds but do have pine nuts, toast those and use them instead. Pine nuts are wonderful in this salad. As they are in just about everything. So experiment as you see fit – this salad can take it. Add crumbled crispy bacon and voila! – it’s a meal on its own. Very easy, very healthy, and great for a dinner party, because it’s easy to prepare and doesn’t need to be served hot.
Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Feta Salad with Balsamic Dressing
200g baby spinach leaves
2 medium sweet potatoes
Feta cheese (preferably Danish – it’s so creamy)
1 red onion
2 tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 tblsp honey
1 tsp mustard
Wash the sweet potatoes and slice into thick rounds. You have a couple of options now – you can fry the slices in batches, which will be delicious, but take a little time, or you can steam/boil the slices and then grill them in the oven to brown. Or you can roast them, as long as your oven is free. I steamed these ones, then arranged them on a foil-lined baking tray, brushed them with olive oil and browned them for a couple of minutes on each side under the grill. You don’t even need to do this – it just looks nicer. You can also peel the sweet potatoes if you prefer, and using the orange-fleshed type looks great if they are available.
Slice the red onion into wedges, separate them into smaller sections, and fry or roast until they are cooked but still have a crunch. You don’t want them to be too soft and floppy, because the crunch gives a nice alternative texture to the soft sweet potato. Toast the pumpkin seeds by tossing them in a dry frying pan on medium heat for a few minutes – if you hear them start to ‘pop’ like popcorn, take them off the heat. But they don’t always pop, so don’t wait for it. A couple of minutes is fine.
Arrange the spinach leaves (big stalks removed) on a nice platter, top with the sweet potato slices, and wedge the red onion wedges in between the potato slices. Crumble the feta over the salad and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds. Mix the balsamic vinegar, honey and mustard together, heat briefly in the microwave, and drizzle over the salad. Serve with a roast chicken or steak.