Sweet potato, spinach and grilled goats cheese warm salad with Parma ham crisps

We are just beginning to welcome warmer weather and with that in mind comes the season of salads. In my experience these are sometimes perceived by some as a rabbit food snack! As a great lover of salads myself I am always looking for ideas to tempt even the biggest sceptic. To me, a good salad has to have colour and full flavours with lots of different textures but satisfying enough for a healthy appetite. 

This recipe is quick and easy to create, and is packed with flavour and crunch. 

Sweet potato, spinach and grilled goats cheese warm salad with Parma ham crisps

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1cm squares
  • 50 g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 slices Parma ham
  • 1 x 100g goats cheese - I love using Somerset Capricorn goats cheese as it is less acidic than most and grills very well
  • 4 dried apricots soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes and drained well
  • 35 g walnuts coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • Small knob butter
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the sweet potato on a moderate heat, for about 6 minutes, until a golden brown and softening slightly, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  • Add the herbs and cumin, season and mix well.
  • Cut the goats cheese in half vertically and place cut side up on a tray. Place under a hot grill for about 4 minutes, until beginning to brown and starting to melt.
  • Toss the spinach into the pan with the sweet potato and stir gently without breaking the spinach down too much. You want to keep the vibrant and slight crispness to the spinach without wilting it too much.
  • Snip the dried apricots into thin slices.
  • Divide the sweet potato mixture onto two serving plates, sprinkle over the dried apricots and honeyed walnuts. Place one piece of the goats cheese on top of each and finish with the Parma ham.
  • Honeyed walnuts
  • Melt a knob of butter on a low heat and add the honey. Add the walnuts and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes until bubbling and starting to brown. Leave to cool.
  • Parma ham crisps
  • Place the slices of Parma ham onto a baking tray or frying pan. You can either grill, dry-fry or bake to make a lovely crispy result which will complement the cheese and can be used to dunk into into its molten puddle. This will take about 1 minute, turning the ham over halfway through cooking. Take care as it can burn quite quickly. This can be made well ahead.
  • Vegetarian Option
  • Replace the Parma ham with bruschetta sticks or thinly sliced celery sticks.

Notes

Tip: Any remaining spinach makes a delicious soup. Simply sauté a diced onion and a few sliced mushrooms in a little butter until cooked. Add the spinach and some of remaining herbs. If you have any salad leaves that need using up, pop them in as well. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes. Add enough milk to make a slightly thin mixture - not too much, you can always thin it later. At this point I pop in a handful of any cheese I have in the fridge - Cheshire is really tasty, as are feta or some lovely blue cheese. Blitz the mixture with a blender or liquidise until smooth. Season to taste. Serve with some crushed crispy Parma ham and a swirl of cream.

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