About 3 weeks ago someone came along and rudely shut-down my summer. August was miserable… really cold and wet. I’ve been point-blank refusing to wear jackets or coats this early in the year, in protest to of the early power-outage on my summer, and as a result I’ve been walking around shivering and drenched. It hasn’t been pleasant.
But, last weekend the switch was thrown again. Not back to full-on summertime, sadly, but to a sunny and mild early autumn. I miss the summer already, but I am more than happy to welcome these brisk mornings, washed out blue skies and the golden light at the end of the day that makes me want to wander around beautiful Winchester for hours (preferably with a jacket on.)
When the air begins to cool and I can hear the rattle of the dry leaves on the branches of the trees, I know it’s time for sweet potatoes. I could eat sweet potatoes all year long, but these orange tubers really come into their own when the weather is cool. So, on a recent gently sunny Sunday afternoon I made Sweet Potato and Halloumi salad with Ginger and Chilli dressing.
I love the combination of sweet potato with chilli- the heat from the chilli making the potatoes taste sweeter, and the richness of the potatoes tempering the burn of the chillis. Together with the tang of freshly grated ginger and the salty squeakiness of grilled halloumi cheese, the salad was the perfect lunch to be eaten on the front steps in a hoodie and fuzzy socks.
Having said all that… if summer-time wants to make an encore performance before we descend into full-blown autumn, that would be just perfect as well.
Sweet Potato and Halloumi Salad with Ginger and Chilli Dressing
For the salad:
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds
1/2 a block of halloumi cheese (or approximately 8 thin slices)
2-3 handfuls of lettuce leaves (you can pick your favourite type of lettuce- we used baby gem)
freshly ground pepper
For the dressing:
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp dijion mustard
the juice 1/2 a lemon
1 tbs white wine vinegar
4-5 tbs olive oil
1 large handful coriander (cilantro) finely chopped
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 (400F) and place the sweet potato rounds on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with about a tbs of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Toss them to coat, then lay the sweet potatoes in a single layer. Bake in the oven, turning over at least once, until they are golden brown- about 35-45 mins.
About 20 mins after you put the sweet potatoes in the oven, place a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat on the stove and add a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Use a napkin or a pastry brush to spread the olive oil over the pan, making sure it’s coated, but only just barely, with the olive oil. Lay the slices of halloumi in a single layer in the frying pan and fry until golden brown. This usually takes about 4 mins on the first side and about 2 mins on the second side.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake the hell out of it. It’s fun!! Shake it hard to really combine the ingredients, then leave to sit for about 10 mins to let the flavours mingle. Give it another good shake right before you pour it on the salad.
Once the sweet potatoes are roasted and the halloumi is fried, you can assemble your salad. Start with a bed of lettuce and drizzle on a little of the dressing. Then, top the lettuce with alternating slices of sweet potato and halloumi. You obviously don’t have to do this… you could just toss it all in the bowl together. Go crazy. Finish by adding the rest of the dressing and a sprinkling on a bit of extra chilli and coriander.