Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places.
Recently, work held a team building day at MONA. It worked, because we bonded over a shared enthusiasm for the amazing food we were served. Morning tea saw mammoth towers of scones, jam and whipped-high cream. Afternoon tea delivered fudge-like chocolate and walnut brownies that were so out of this world I had to have two squares to confirm that they were indeed deliriously fabulous.
Lunch was delicious, fresh, colourful and satisfying. For days afterwards the team bonding continued as we remembered the various wraps, sandwiches and salads. Oh, the salads! The roast vegie salad was so good, in fact, that I actually studied my second plateful (these training days are hungry work) and noted down the ingredients on my training notepad. Oh, I’ve just realised some of my workmates may read this…
There was carrot, potato and beetroot, tumbled with pebble-like puy lentils, pepitas, baby spinach leaves and small crumbles of salty feta. It was a wonderful collection of textures and flavours, both light and filling at the same time. I’m always on the lookout for different ways to enjoy vegies, and this was spot on.
So I had a go at making my own version. I had no beetroot and forgot to buy feta (but will include both next time); but I included one of my favourite winter vegetables, parsnips, which are both sweet and earthy, and threw in some chickpeas as well.
My MONA roast vegie salad
No quantities given here – warm or cold, salads are pretty haphazard things. Just cook enough of everything for a couple of serves (or more for leftovers and other meals).
- Cut your vegies into bite-sized pieces. I used carrot, parsnip and a grey-skinned pumpkin (all from dad – thanks dad!). Steam them until just done – this is Nigel Slater’s tip for keeping root vegies moist and creamy when roasting them.
- Meanwhile cook some puy lentils according to the instructions on their packet (they take about 20 minutes).
- Preheat your oven to 180 and once your vegies are just done, tip them onto a baking tray (or two), drizzle with a little oil and bake for about 20-30 minutes – until they just start to crisp around the edges. In the last few minutes, toast some pepitas until just crunchy (they won’t need long).
- To assemble your bowl of MONA roast vegie salad, tip the vegies into your bowls, stir thru spoonfuls of lentils and chickpeas (tinned ones that you’ve rinsed and drained), gentle fold through some fancy lettuce or baby spinach leaves. Then squeeze over some lemon juice, sprinkle over the toasted pepitas, and shake on a little S&P. Enjoy!