One thing we love about our weekly CSA box is that it helps with creativity in the kitchen. Chef Gerald has no problem with this concept whatsoever, because his food preferences change on a weekly basis, sometimes even more frequently. Mummy, on the other hand, must admit to having terrible visions of staring blankly at the fridge and pantry, wondering what to make for dinner, with the clock ticking furiously in the background and a baby birdie munching impatiently on her ear…. We had been shopping at conventional markets for quite a few years now, as we’ve found their produce range and quality far superior to what can usually be found in the local supermarket, but we could never go shopping without a whole week’s menu decided in advance and a detailed shopping list in our pocket… Indeed, the mid-week dinner dilemma can be quite a nasty experience – as someone once said, “I’ll cook anything mid-week, just tell me what!”
Well, things are definitely changing now, and the move to receiving our CERES box every week, without knowing the contents in advance, hasn’t been that scary after all. There’s no secret behind it, other than perhaps a well-stocked pantry and obviously some clever planning on behalf of the CERES folks, who usually make it pretty easy for us to come up with a yummy dinner idea based on the contents of the box.
This time we had some lovely new potatoes, a gorgeous looking Japanese pumpkin and lots of baby spinach. Great ingredients for a nice salad and, in keeping with the spring theme and the fact that it had to accompany grilled fish, we also needed a light dressing for it. Enter Chef Gerald’s balcony herb collection, still in its infancy, but which has grown enough during the last week to allow us to snip a few tasty leaves for our salad.
New Potato, Pumpkin and Baby Spinach Salad with Lemon and Herb Dressing
1 kg new potatoes, skins on, well rinsed and scrubbed
1 small Japanese pumpkin, unpeeled, rinsed and dried
150g baby spinach, rinsed and spun dry
3 tbsp olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, rinsed but left whole and unpeeled
Juice from one large lemon
Approx 2 tbsp mixed herbs (we used mint, thyme and oregano), finely chopped
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Halve or quarter the potatoes, depending on size. Cut up pumpkin into large wedges, then place potatoes, pumpkin pieces and garlic cloves onto a large baking tray. Brush with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked, but not too soft, turning half way. Remove from oven, cut into smaller pieces and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice with the chopped herbs and set aside.
When the potatoes and pumpkin have cooled a little, pour the lemon and herb dressing over them and mix thoroughly. If you do this while the potatoes are still warm, you will find that they absorb all the delicious flavours. Mix with the baby spinach leaves and adjust seasoning if necessary. This makes 4 – 5 generous servings and goes beautifully well with grilled fish.