This is the addictive salad that I've been eating a lot lately. I know, you're asking how I could possibly want to eat salad when there's snow outside? Well, firstly, my kitchen is warm after roasting the sweet potato required (an expensive item in Germany!) and this salad incorporates warm elements, too. I used rocket (arugula, for any Americans visiting) which stands up quite well to warm salads, and contributed a nice peppery touch. In addition, I threw in a few vegetables that I had lying around: namely, radish, and the roasted capsicum. But they're not the stars of the show. No, this salad is all about creamy chestnuts and golden sweet potato, topped with toasted pumpkin seed oil. It's my new favourite salad dressing (new favourite kitchen ingredient; definitely the best thing I've discovered in Germany!) and I'm never letting it go. The seeds are roasted before they're pressed for oil, so the flavour is resoundingly nutty and sweet. It's addictive, really.
I'd like to tell you that I slaved away for hours over my chestnuts, first cutting a cross into the skins and then boiling them until they were tender, and scorching my fingers as I pulled them from the water and delicately pulled away the bitter inner skin to reveal the dense and creamy flesh. I'm more than familiar with that process, because the easiest way to find chestnuts at home in Adelaide was always fresh... except that one time that I discovered a bag of frozen chestnuts in an Asian supermarket. That was awesome! However, I found some pre-prepared ones in a supermarket, and splashed out on the convenience factor, because I was already hungry. Normally, though, I'd take the long way around; there's something intensely soothing about repetitive kitchen motion.
My lady at the Dom Markt still has large bunches of rocket available, probably grown in a greenhouse (which would explain why she's still picking the last of the tomatoes and capsicums). Usually I go for the feldsalat, which I can eat in vast portions, because I went completely off of rocket a few years ago. What happened was that I decided to grow a couple of plants in my vegetable garden. To cut a long story short, I ate more rocket than any person ever ought to, both cooked and raw, and even after attacking the plants with secateurs, they still grew back. Rocket: 1, Megan: 0. For some extra pepper, and some gorgeous colour, I added slices of radish. I've never been that enthralled by radish, but I do love the colour and the crunch.
So, to get to the other warm portion of this salad: roasted sweet potato. Roasted butternut pumpkin would also be a lovely choice. Just cut your portion into bite-sized pieces and roast in a hot oven (mine was 250 degrees C, according to the thermostat, but possible a few degrees less because my oven is rather old) for 30-40 minutes, until toasty and tender. I roasted a small capsicum for 20 minutes, too, until the skin was blackened, and then I peeled off the skin to reveal the red flesh beneath. Doesn't that sound a bit carnal and disturbing? Either way, it was delicious, but not strictly necessary for this salad. Add whatever salad veg you like, but make sure there's leaves, roasted
1 large bunch salad leaves (I chose rocket; select something that can handle a little heat)
150g halved prepared chestnuts, warm
1 small sweet potato, roasted, still warm
salad vegetables of choice (I chose three radishes and a small roasted red capsicum; I think cucumber and blanched green beans would also be delicious, but they're long out of season here.)
2 Tbsp pumpkin seed oil
salt and pepper
Mix salad vegetables and chestnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with pumpkinseed oil and add a generous grind of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, and enjoy.