Cook with what you’ve got, not to throw any produce, is one of my (very few!) kitchen rules. Although I can always dump leftovers on my compost pile, to me, that still feels a bit like wasting it. But what to do with a tree overhanging with fruits that you’ll never be able to eat before season’s over? Besides giving them away generously, I try to put it in any dish. And thankfully, my apples of unknown variety are great in this sensational Spinach Lentil Salad with Roasted Potatoes and Nuts with Balsamic Mayonnaise.
One of the things that convinced us to move into our new house were the fruit trees in the garden. One was an orange tree, we knew that for sure as it still had some oranges. Thick skinned and dried out flesh, but nonetheless oranges. Oranges! In my own backyard! Thank you California.
The other tree got us puzzled for quite a while. The fruits were small, green, hard and had a strange ‘tail’. We cut one of the fruits open but didn’t find an answer there. Time would tell, so we let the fruits do their thing and got back to unpacking our stuff.
A few weeks later we couldn’t resist and started guessing again. Comparing online pictures with our fruits, convinced me we had an apple tree. Filled with loooots and loooots of fruits. The branches were bending down the bigger the fruits grew. Some are now even touching the ground thanks to the heavy fruits – yes, they are apples! – growing in pairs of 4-5 together.
But what kind of apples?
We have no clue. They’re green like Granny Smiths, but are not as hard and sour. A bit softer and juicier.
At last weeks farmers market one of the vendors might have had the answer. He had Granny Smith apples, another variety and their baby that looked like ours and was introduced in 1947, if I recall correctly. That’s all I know. I forgot to make pictures of the name signs to look it up and we didn’t had any cash left to buy all three varieties to test and compare them.
Until I visit the farmer’s market again, I just enjoy them namelessly.
We juiced a lot of the apples that fell off early. Regularly, I cut the apples in thin slices and serve them with a mix of sugar and ground cinnamon, just like my Granny used to do. And I’ve put them in dinner. Like in this great (vegan) Spinach Lentil Salad with Roasted Potatoes and Nuts with Balsamic Mayonnaise.
Spinach Lentil Salad with Roasted Potatoes and Nuts with Balsamic Mayonnaise [vegan]
When I typed ‘spinach lentil potato’ into the search bar, Google only gave me curry like stews. Not what I was aiming for on last weeks hot weekday. I was told multiple times that even for California it was extreme to have that hot weather in September. I didn’t mind, I could make up another of my infamous Sensational Salads. This one, with roasted potatoes, in stock boiled green (firm) lentils, spinach, nuts and a bunch of fresh herbs is my newest favorite.
1 lb golden potatoes
1,5 T + 1 T coconut oil
salt + pepper
1/3 cup firm green lentils *
2/3 cups stock (check lentil package)
1/4 cup nuts (like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc)
1 fresh, sour apple
2 hand of spinach
5 twigs parsley
3 twigs thyme
1-2 T hazelnut oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T mayonnaise
salt + pepper
1 T hazelnut oil
* I cooked 1 cup lentils and didn’t use all lentils in this Sensational Salad, only about one-third. Since they stay good in the fridge for about a week and freeze well, it’s easy to boil a bit more to have some at hand for a quick lunch salad.
If you’ve had signed up for my recipe mailing list, you didn’t only receive this full blog post and recipe in your mailbox an hour after this appeared online, but also an extra recipe for that lentil lunch salad. So be sure you’ll get my extra recipes as well, by signing up for my recipe mailing list!
Roast the potatoes. Check the skin for bad spots and remove those. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch-sized pieces and coat them with 1,5 tablespoon of coconut oil, salt and pepper. Divide over a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Put in the oven and turn that on at 400 F | 200 C. Let roast for about 40 minutes, turning the potato pieces half way. Potatoes need to become golden brown and fully cooked.
Tip: Yeah, no need to preheat the oven here as well!
Cook the lentils. Pour stock and lentils in a pot, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Let simmer until they’re done. And you test that by tasting the lentils. Remove from the pan.
If your lentils (and all other legumes) are a bit older, it can take longer to cook them than the package will prescribe. Don’t worry too much, just taste and add some more water if needed.
Tip: My version of this dish wasn’t completely vegan, since I used duck stock as I happen to have that in my freezer. But any stock will do. To keep it vegan, use vegetable stock. For more flavor, add a bay leave, 1/4 onion, 1 peeled glove of garlic, the stems of the parsley and thyme used in this recipe. salt and pepper.
Roast the nuts in a dry skillet on medium heat until a bit browned and smelling wonderfully (in the mean time, chop the onion, see next step). Remove from the pot and chop into smaller pieces.
Bake the onion. Peel the onion and cut in half rings. Pour 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the hot pan (after you’ve removed the nuts) and bake the onion rings on high heat until softened a bit. About 3-4 minutes will be enough, as I like them a bit firm in this salad. Don’t wash the skillet yet!
Make the balsamic mayonnaise. Pour the balsamic vinegar in the skillet and let it reduce while stirring occasionally on low heat till 1 tablespoon is left. Pour in a bowl and stir in mayonnaise, hazelnut oil, salt and pepper.
Tip: If you reduced the balsamic vinegar a bit too much, it can set and clump up as you stir in the mayonnaise. Just start over. Sorry, I don’t no other way to resolve this.
Prepare apples and herbs. Cut apples into thin slices (no need to peel them). Finely chop parsley leaves. Remove thyme leaves from stems.
Start plating. Divide the spinach over the plates. Potatoes on top. Lentils. Apple slices. Nuts. Herbs. Dollops of balsamic mayonnaise.
Grate the skin of 1/4 of a lemon over each plate, drizzle some extra hazelnut oil, grind some pepper and serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over this sensational salad.
I’m just fond of these filling salads that are more like a meal than a light side dish. Meal salads we’d call them in Dutch. Sensational Salads is my name for them in English. You can go anywhere with them. How about this sensational Salad with Sweet Potato and Roasted Chicken?