So last night we made a salsa verde (mmm, garlicky enough to fell a vampire at one thousand paces) and I mentioned that I was going to have it with a baked salad. This morning my Mum, (hi Mum) asked me what a baked salad is, well, this is what I mean.
In this baking dish I have seasonal vegetables, some from the garden, some from the shops, I pop them into a hot oven and cook them in layers, depending on what their cooking needs are. So to begin with I popped in some diced pumpkin and sweet potato, drizzled that with a little olive oil and tucked them into the corner of the oven at 180 degrees C for about twenty minutes, then I added half of a red capsicum, cut into thick strips and two French shallots, just peeled and cut in half lengthwise, these were pulled straight from the garden to go into the pan and that makes me so, so happy, back into the oven for another twenty minutes, then I scatter on half a dozen whole baby Roma tomatoes,and a handful of pecans, back into the oven for another fifteen minutes or so, enough for the pecans to toast, but not burn, then out it comes, top with half an avocado, peeled and cut up, and plenty of salsa verde. MMMMM!
You can of course do this with anything you have that is on hand, it is just like when we did our stir fry, it is all about grouping the veg together in the order of how cooked you want them. I wanted my pumpkin and sweet potato cooked all the way through with a bit of colour, so that went in for the longest, I like my capsicum and shallot cooked through too, but it will not take as long as the root vegetables, so they went in next, I only wanted my tomatoes kissed, not baked to mush, and my pecans are high in oil, so they will burn very quickly, so they went in last, finally my avocado went in raw as I am not a fan of cooked avocado.
If I had had parsnip, I would have put this in with the pumpkin, if I had had zucchini I would have put it in with the capsicum, if I had had carrot, I would have left it in the fridge.
A scatter of drained and rinsed capers would have been nice with the avocado, but our salsa verde already has capers so they were not needed. You could have this with that gorgeous homemade mayonnaise or tartare sauce I taught you to make a few weeks ago, or a beautiful tomato relish, ooh, note to me, I must put the Big Tom Relish recipe up for Dee, this would also be wonderful with the guacamole we made when we made the corn tornadoes. What I want you to think about with this dish is layering, you are layering textures and flavours, this is what lifts a vegan dish like this from the eh, to the sublime.
If you wanted this to be a vegan or vegetarian meal, I would pair it with some beautiful steamed basmati rice, or a pilaf, note to self, put a pilaf recipe on blog. If you wanted to make it a part of a meal with meat (as I did) a seared salmon cutlet, some roasted chicken drumsticks or even some nice sausages would pair well with this. I had mine with a nice bit of fillet steak that I cooked on the barbecue and some roasted potatoes that were cooking alonside this salad so that the oven wasn’t cranking for one small thing, and it was a gorgeous dinner, want to see?