This is the first in a series of quick and easy meal ideas that I plan to bring to you - not strict recipes, as such, but more a suggestion of ingredients you can put together in whatever quantities or proportions suits your palate, your pantry or your wallet. Things that don't rely on precise quantities, that will serve more as a springboard for you to tweek and put your own spin on.
Now, if you've been following this blog for a while, then you know that one of my great loves is the "big bowl" salad - a salad which is substantial and which serves as a meal rather than a side dish. You might be interested in this earlier post, in which I talk about what I consider to be the essential elements of a good salad. The "framework" if you like that enables you to build great salads out of whatever takes your fancy.
It being winter here right now, this certainly isn't the time for light and leafy salads; something altogether more substantial is called for, and I often like some "warm" ingredients in my winter salads.
So for this salad you will need: some day-old bread - cut into chunks (I used ciabatta); chorizo sausage - thinly sliced; olives (I used a mixture of green and black); sweet potato (I used an orange fleshed one) - cut into cubes; spinach; olive oil; balsamic vinegar; maple syrup; and salt and pepper.
Begin by heating a little olive oil in a skillet over high heat, then toss the bread chunks in the hot oil and fry until the bread has soaked up all the oil and is golden brown on all sides and crispy. Remove bread from pan, put into your salad serving bowl, sprinkle over some flakey sea salt, and toss well.
Return the pan to the heat and now fry the chorizo. If necessary you could add a little more olive oil to the pan, but bear in mind that the chorizo will render quite a bit of fat of its own. Keep tossing the chorizo around in the pan until it is nice and brown on both sides, and when it is nearly done add the olives to the pan for the last couple of minutes to warm through. Then tip the entire contents of the pan, including all the pan juices, over the bread in the salad bowl. Toss everything together well.
Add a little more oil to the skillet, and return pan to heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cubed sweet potato to the oil, sprinkle over some flakey sea salt and cracked black pepper, and toss from time to time, until the sweet potato is fork tender and golden brown all over.
At this stage, pour a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar into the pan to deglaze, and then add some maple syrup. Allow everything to bubble up around the sweet potato, and keep tossing it around until all the pieces are well glazed. Then tip the entire contents of the pan over the other ingredients already in the salad bowl.
Now add some spinach leaves to the bowl, sprinkle with a little more flakey sea salt, and toss everthing together well. The spinach leaves should end up lightly coated with all the olive oil, chorizo fat, balsamic and maple syrup that you cooked the other ingredients in, but if you feel it needs a little more dressing, then drizzle over a little more olive oil or balsamic vinegar. Season to taste.
Click here for a printable copy.
I'm also submitting this post to the Two for Tuesdays blog hop.