This post’s going out in a hurry. I was on a trip over the past few days and I only just got back. And yet here I am, with another delicious treat for you, even though I spent the past week in England and the past 11 hours on buses. “Oh Dittatrice, how do you do it?” Well, I guess I’m just pretty good.
So, this trip. I went to see a few friends in various places in the UK. I’ve seen scandalously little of this country in the four years that I’ve lived here, so I’m trying to catch up in the last few weeks as a resident of Glasgow. I went to places where I know people, partly because it’s cheaper that way and I’m a bit of a pauper, but mostly because it’s fun seeing your friends in their natural habitat.
My last stop on this most recent trip was Oxford. Oxford’s a pretty weird place, but nice in its own obnoxious way. I have a friend there whom I know from way back, and he kindly let me stay at his place. It was lovely catching up with him and having a look at his current home town. As a thank-you for letting me stay in his guest room and for taking me out for dinner the day I arrived, I agreed to cook him something tasty the next night. The challenge: he seeks to avoid carbs.
That’s OK. I can work with that.
This salad was only half of the meal I ended up making – the other half was an excellent lentil soup. That one’s for another day. Today’s for roast veg spinach salad.
For a good two portions of salad you will need:
- two big handfuls of spinach – I used that variety with the thick, big leaves, what’s it called?
- 1 aubergine
- 1 or 2 red peppers
- 1 red onion
- a good handful of cherry tomatoes
- about 3 spring onions
- 1 little fresh red jalapeño
- a few cloves of garlic
and then for the dressing you will need:
- juice of half a lemon
- some olive oil
- a good spoonful of honey or agave nectar – either works
- some salt and pepper
- some dried herbs to taste – I used a little bit of oregano which was pretty nice
So first of all, slice up the aubergine, sprinkle the slices with salt and stick them in a sieve or colander, weighing them down with a little saucer or something with cans of beans piled on top of it. This way you’ll leak out all the bitterness.
That done, you stick your peppers under the grill. They’re meant to go black all the way around – turn them over when one side’s black until all sides are. Then stick them in a plastic food bag which you close. Leave them whilst you prepare the rest of the food – once they’ve been in the bag for a while, the skin will come off easily. Do the same with the tiny jalapeño.
Slice the red onion in rings and halve the garlic cloves. rub them with a bit of olive oil, then drizzle them with honey (or agave nectar if you’re using that) and stick them under the grill. Be careful not to put the tray up too high – you want to grill them but not burn them straight away.
Take the Aubergine slices, dry them, coat them in oil and grill them. If you’ve got a griddle, use that – if not, wait until the onion and garlic are done and stick the aubergine under the grill as well.
Meanwhile, wash the spinach and slice the leaves in big-ish strips. Chuck these in a big bowl. Halve all of your cherry tomatoes and add those in, too. Grab your peppers, take off the skin, slice them up and add them to the spinach. Chuck in the onions and garlic, too, and when done, the aubergine. Top with the spring onion.
To make your dressing, chuck the ingredients from the list above all in a cup together and mix well. Taste – it should be tangy, but not sour. Experiment with the quantities, it depends a little on the products you’re using, so just taste until you’re pleased with the result.
Pour your dressing over the salad and serve.