It is summer time, so my thoughts have naturally turned to salads.
I love salads that are a whole meal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with green salads, but I tend to think of them as a side dish, rather than the main event.
This is one of my favourite substantial salads. I sometimes vary what goes into it, adding spinach or some other leafy green, but the chickpeas and either roasted sweet potato or pumpkin are always a constant.
I roast vegetables on a cooler day in summer so that they are ready in the fridge for using in salads. If I have some veggies already roasted, it makes it very quick to throw this or any other salad together. The dressing is what makes it so delicious. You could probably use it with any firm vegetable and it would work.
The dressing has all those special Thai hot, spicy, sweet and salty notes that make everything taste good.
I took this recently to a family meal and it was a big hit.
chickpea and roasted sweet potato salad with a thai coconut dressing
I’m sitting and writing this post with all the effects of eating a wonderful bowl of fragrant, hot, sour and salty tom yum soup. Tissues at the ready, hiccups from the chillies. And loving it.
My family all love Thailand and Thai food, a legacy of one of my sisters living in Bangkok for a couple of years. I received a kaffir lime tree for my birthday a few years back. It is popular with my family, neighbours and friends when they are making Thai food. Just the smell of the leaves is transporting. Back to Thailand in an instant.
Anyway, recent events led me to making the soup, which I have never done before. I had been in the city for a couple of days and dropped into Supercharger for lunch. They have a tom yum soup that is just delicious and I decided I must make some.
As luck would have it, that night I watched an episode of David Thompson’s Thai Street Food and he was making Tom Yum. I had no idea it was so easy to make. I learned that ‘tom’ means to boil in Thai, and that’s exactly what the soup is. Stock boiled with aromatic herbs and some vegetables.
The classic tom yum in Thailand often has prawns and straw mushrooms. I happened to have some mock vegan prawns in the freezer from Vincent’s Vegetarian so I used them along with some canned champignons. You could put any vegetables or tofu in it, the soup is the star.
It is easy to make and utterly delicious. Perfect for something light after all that holiday excess. Just go and make some!
When I was in Sydney a couple of weeks ago I bought some handmade seitan from Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher. You can also buy seitan or soy mock meats at a lot of Asian grocers – my favourite is Vincent’s Vegetarian. If you’ve never been to Vincent’s, and like mock meat, you really should go. It is astonishing and slightly scary what you can make with soy and wheat protein! If you are not a mock meat fan, then you could use chick peas, some fried tofu chunks or just other firm vegetables with the potatoes.
The potatoes I used in this dish are some beautiful Dutch Creams I grew this year that are almost ready to harvest. I dug a couple out from under the plants with my hands, leaving the plant intact. Dutch Creams are my favourite potato at the moment. They are good for using in just about anything – baking, boiling, roasting and salads. They look beautiful with their yellow flesh and they taste wonderful.
Anyway, enough of the potato adoration. I needed to use the seitan and I thought of this yellow curry that I’d made at a cooking school in Thailand about 12 years ago. Thai yellow curries are unusual because they use both curry paste and curry powder.
I dug out the notes from the school to a check up on the ingredients and headed off to Victoria Street in Richmond to stock up on some essentials that I didn’t have – like fresh lemongrass.
I don’t make curry pastes very often, but when I do I remember how fresh and vibrant they are compared to commercially made ones. This time I decided to go the home-made route, but really you can use a commercially made one and it will be great. I can’t be bothered making a curry paste about 99 times out of 100, I’m fundamentally a lazy cook. 🙂
Valcomm make a yellow curry paste that doesn’t have shrimp paste in it and it is easily available at supermarkets in Australia.
I felt like some greens with mine so, although it isn’t traditional, I threw a big handful of spinach leaves on top of the steamed rice in my bowl to wilt underneath the curry.