I don't invent recipes. I really don't. I'm not the type of person who walks into a Farmer's Market and designs the week's menu based on what's available, nor am I the type who has all recipes memorized. I'm the chick with the planner and the mountain of (organized) recipe index cards and one list of ingredients assigned to each person shopping. Yeah. I don't do spontaneous. I'm slowly moving away from teaspoon and tablespoon measures. Very, very slowly.
So you can imagine how impressed and dubious Do was when he came home last night and I presented him with a dish that I had invented. In the grocery store, on the fly. Yah. Who da man.
I swung by the grocery store yesterday to pick up some eggs (for challah) and a head of cauliflower (for spiced Cauliflower soup, recipe to follow). The Piedmont Groceries had just set up its fall display, with pumpkins, Indian corn, and all those cool squash. My brain went from "aaaw, I guess it is fall. Maybe I should do something fall-like for dinner." to "Oh, crap, tonight is the first night of Sukkot [Jewish harvest festival]. I should definitely do something fall-like." to "I think I have a recipe clipping at home for a roasted yam salad that sounded yummy. Ok, let's work from there."
I did end up using the recipe clipping for inspiration (Food & Wine's Roasted Yam and Apple Salad, unknown issue). It had a great method for roasting the yams: sesame oil and cumin. And, with a few tweaks to suit our preference for strong flavor, the vinaigrette was pretty damn good too. The lettuce is indispensable, both for color and because it alone adds crunch to an otherwise creamy salad. You may want to soak the lettuce ahead of time to make it extra crunchy. The tangerines add citrus, again to balance out the creamy flavor of the roast yams. Red Cabbage for color. And the rest, just because I'm the type who likes a lot of "stuff" in my salads and on my pizzas.
It was damn good: we had thirds. Really addictive. FYI, for those celebrating Thanksgiving with us, this may well occur.
Neen's Roasted Yam Salad (serves 8-10)
2 yams or sweet potatoes
1 small butternut squash (alternative: use two more yams)
1 Tbs cumin (on the plus side)
1 Tbs sesame oil (on the plus side)
vegetable oil or spray-on oil
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 heads butter lettuce, torn into bite size pieces.
2 tangerines or apples
1/3 of a small purple cabbage
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped.
1/2 cup olive oil
2 1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs Dijon Mustard (on the plus side)
2 garlic cloves, crushed.
1 Tbs Korean Chili paste or any curry paste.
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel butternut squash. Chop squash and yams into 1" cubes. Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with the vegetable oil, the sesame oil, the cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Roast approximately 1 hour.
Meanwhile, whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Separate tangerines into sections, and cut each section into three. Put tangerines into a large salad bowl, along with the pine nuts, the raisins, the lettuce*, and the cilantro. Using a Cuisinart, shred the red cabbage and add it to the salad bowl.
Once the yams are roasted until tender, add them to the salad bowl and mix with the vinaigrette.
*ALTERNATIVE PRESENTATION: Do really liked the contrast between the crunchy lettuce and the creamy yams. One way to keep the lettuce crunchy for as long as possible is to prepare the salad as stated above without adding the lettuce, and instead to prepare a mound of lettuce on each person's plate. Then the salad can simply be heaped on top of the lettuce bed, and mixed together by each guest.