Starting out knowing very little (if anything of any real importance) about Jamie Oliver, I was hesitant when I found out he had been chosen. I'll save you from my reminiscing (until the end of September). I'll simply say that there have been some big winners and some bumps along the way.
Like this week. With time running out and a whole mess o' recipes to try, I picked a salad & a soup. One was a hit. The other...not so much. As they say, you can't win 'em all.
I like bad news first...to end on something good.
Jamie Oliver's Sweet Potato Soup w/ Chorizo sounded like a good idea. An excellent idea. I live near sweet potato country and we're always looking for more ways to cook them. And chorizo is no stranger in my house, normally making an appearance in breakfast burritos. Which we eat for lunch. That's just the kind of topsy turvy house I live in.
This soup has gotten rave reviews across the blogosphere, so don't pay any attention to little old me. Until I get to the salad. Then sit up straight. And take notes.
Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup, served with
To be fair, I made changes (yeah, what's new?).
~We discovered we're not fans of curry--more on that next week. I decided to skip the curry powder and flavor the soup with cumin and smoked paprika.
~It seemed a sin to puree perfectly good chunks of chorizo sausage (and kinda gross too, IMO), so I compromised and pureed only half of the soup in a blender. Avoiding the chorizo as much as I could.
It was so-so. Edible. Not memorable.
The soup recipe can be found @ Kitchen Adventures
What was memorable was the Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad w/ Orange & Lemon Dressing.
2 level teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 or 2 small dried chillies, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
extra virgin olive oil
red or white wine vinegar
1 orange, halved
1 lemon, halved
3 ripe avocados
red wine vinegar
4 x ½-inch-thick slices of ciabatta or other good-quality bread
2 handfuls of interesting mixed winter salad leaves (like Treviso, arugula, radicchio or cavolo nero tops), washed and spun dry
2 bunches of cress
2⁄3 cup of sour cream
4 tablespoons mixed seeds, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Parboil your carrots in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, until they are very nearly cooked, then drain and put them into a roasting pan. You should flavor them while they're steaming hot, so while the carrots are cooking get a pestle and mortar and smash up the cumin seeds, chillies, salt and pepper. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and smash up again until you have a kind of paste. The idea here is to build up the flavors. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to generously cover the paste, and a good swig of vinegar. This will be like a marinade, a rub and a dressing all in one! Stir together, then pour over the carrots in the pan, coating them well. Add the orange and lemon halves, cut-side down. These will roast along with the carrots, and their juice can be used as the basis of the dressing. Place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden.
While the carrots are roasting, halve and peel your avocados, discarding the pits, then cut them into wedges lengthwise and place in a big bowl. Remove the carrots from the oven and add them to the avocados. Carefully, using some tongs, squeeze the roasted orange and lemon juice into a bowl and add the same amount of extra virgin olive oil and a little swig of red wine vinegar. Season, and pour this dressing over the carrots and avocados. Mix together, have a taste and correct the seasoning. Call your gang round the table while you toast or broil your ciabatta slices.
Tear the toasted bread into little pieces and add to the dressed carrot and avocado. Mix together, toss in the salad leaves and cress and transfer to a big platter or divide between individual plates. Spoon over a nice dollop of sour cream, sprinkle over your toasted seeds and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil.
I've never had roasted carrots in a salad before, but now I want them all the time. In every salad I eat. The combination and textures of the avocado and roasted carrots was rich and very filling. We could have eaten this as a meal. In fact, next time I make this, I'll use it as the main dish...it is more work than I'd normally put into a salad. But the cumin, chile, orange, and lemon in the dressing made all of us say, "wow." The extra work was worth it.
In true me form, I didn't follow the recipe. Fancy carrots and lettuce aren't easy to come by this time of year. My sunflower kernels ended up being rancid. And I skipped the broiled bread since we were also eating bready pizza puffs.
Also visit Deb @ Kahakai Kitchen. She has a weekly round-up of all things soup, salad, and sandwich: Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays.