Friday, 18 December 2009

Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad

I put this dish together as my effort to meet the Real Epicurean In the Bag challenge for December. The challenge is to create a dish using cranberries, clementines or mandarins and nuts. To be honest that sounded a bit too Christmassy for me - Christmas doesn’t come very high on my list of favourite times of the year. But then I thought why shouldn’t I be using these really good ingredients when they’re at their best? It’s not their fault that they get slopped on to turkey or turn up at the bottom of Santa’s sack. So I've had a go.

Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad

This salad will serve 4 as part of a mezze or 2 as a light lunch with some flatbreads or something of that kind.

1 green pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
3 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, around 600 – 650 g unpeeled weight
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp chilli powder
350 ml vegetable stock
2 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp clementine juice
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 clementines, divided into segments
A generous handful of cranberries
A generous handful of shelled pistachios
A sprig or two of chervil or parsley

Skin the pepper: grill it until blackened, place in a sealed plastic bag while it cools and the skin should come off easily. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into slices of around 1.5 cm thick.

In a pan which will be large enough to hold the sweet potato slices in one layer, soften the onion in around 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes without colouring. Add the sweet potato slices, stir in the cumin and chilli powder and pour over the stock. Add the lemon and clementine juices, the maple syrup and pomegranate molasses. Even out the sweet potatoes in the pan, bring to the boil and simmer gently without covering  for around 20 minutes – the sweet potatoes should have begun to soften but not fall apart.

Add the cranberries and continue simmering until the sweet potatoes are completely tender and the cranberries are collapsing. By this time the liquid should have reduced to a thick dressing. (If it dries out too much during the cooking, it may be necessary to add a little water).

Lightly toast the pistachios in an oven at 180°C for 5 minutes. Slice the flesh of the green pepper. Put the sweet potatoes in a serving dish, stir in the pistachios and green pepper. Place the clementine segments on top and decorate with a sprinkling of chervil or parsley.

Eat at room temperature while pretending it’s still summer.