Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato, Lentil and Feta Salad

Ho hum, the holiday's over. No more long pub lunches or floating around in a punt, no time for National Trust afternoon teas or non-National Trust afternoon naps. It's time to go back to work and back to packed lunches. The unceasing rain is echoing my mood.  

I should point out that I do actually like my job, as jobs go. It's just...well, work. Sitting at a desk and staring at a screen for hours on end, occasionally enlivening the tedium with such thrilling interludes as a trip to the water machine, a visit to the loo or, in extremis, just a walk around the floor. Waiting for the clock to tick towards home time. Oh, humans were not built to engage in soul-destroying office work.

Right, now that I've indulged that little pity party, let's get to today's recipe, shall we? To be honest, the name says it all - spicy chunks of roasted sweet potato, earthy lentils, crumbly feta and a few green bits to make it feel like a salad. I adapted this from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen, swapping her goat's cheese (blurgh) for feta, her squash for sweet potato (just what we had in the fridge), adding in some leafy greens, being lazy with ready-cooked lentils, skipping the celery and punching it up with some spring onion. Easy to make, withstands the tupperware test with aplomb, and isn't too antisocial as an office lunch (ahem, in comparison with smoked mackerel or raw garlic).

I can't get too enthused about it, because I can't get too enthused about lunchtimes at the moment. The boredom that leads you to start eating before 12. The mandatory piece of fruit and joyless nut'n'raisin for "pudding". The desultory poke around the shops. Or worse, the massive queue at the post office/bank/doctors (delete as appropriate). Not to mention the hours stretching ahead of you until home time, when a few short hours where you can call your soul your own pass swiftly before you're back yawning on the tube to work.  

Sorry, got grumpy again there. In summary, this recipe? Yes, very nice, try it. But it's no crumble, is it? It's not fish and chips, or scones with clotted cream and jam, or a nice crisp vodka and tonic while you peruse a posh menu? God, I miss holiday.

Spicy Sweet Potato, Lentil and Feta Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 1
- a big sweet potato, scrubbed (not peeled) and cut into chunks
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- smoked paprika
- cumin
- feta (about a third of a pack, crumbled)
- lentils - I used a vacuum pack of ready-cooked ones, but you could try tinned or even boiling your own
- baby spinach
- 1 tablespoonful of red wine vinegar
- a spring onion, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200C, and toss the sweet potato chunks around with a spoonful of oil and a few good sprinkles of salt, pepper, smoked paprika and cumin. Roast for about half an hour or until tender with caramelised edges, shaking them around half way through, then let them cool.
If you're going to eat this straight away, mix the sweet potato chunks with everything else and then taste to see if you want more vinegar, or if it needs an additional drizzle of oil or bit of seasoning.
If you are also a wage slave, you might want to consider going to the depths of mania like me and mixing together everything EXCEPT the vinegar, packing it all into a lunchbox and taking a ludicrous mini tupperware of vinegar, then dressing it just before eating. No one needs a soggy salad.
Either way, eat, enjoy and plan your weekend.   

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