Since we left London a few years ago, first for India, then Vancouver, via Istanbul and now Tarifa, Chef Yotam Ottolenghi has really become The Don of cheaper eating Cafe-Salad bar places with his eponymous cafe in Islington spawning what seems like literally thousands of copycat type places in every corner of the city. His signature thing was to have these meringues' piled up in the window along with arrays of other enticing cakes. I remember when he was the first person doing that along with the place I worked as the pastry chef which was the competition at that time. My boss suggested I make the meringues and we do the same in our window. To my shame I did, but now everyone's copied anyway and the place I worked at closed down!
The thing is, Ottolenghi does deserve his success in my eyes. He's providing fairly simple and healthy, home style cooking at a price people can afford to have daily for lunch and most importantly putting this concept out there for everyone pushed for time in the city making lunches for work or quick dinners after; that it is possible to eat well on a budget with little preparation. This recipe is adapted from his first book Plenty and I'm entering it into the fantastic No Croutons Required competition this month, Hosted by Lisa this month and taking for it's theme hot chilli peppers.
Satay Rice Salad (serves 4)
1 cup long grained brown rice
2 stick celery
1 small sweet potato
4 cups spinach leaves
3 tablespoons vegetable, canola, or any other neutral-tasting oil
1 lemongrass stalk
1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
1 medium red chilli (seeded and minced)
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)
2 tbs tamarind puree
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp salt
2 tbs honey, sugar or agave.
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaf (roughly chopped)
- 1. Wash the rice in at least 3 changes of water and then leave to soak overnight (if you have time). Otherwise, just place the rice with 2 cups of water in saucepan and bring to the boil. Now turn the rice to medium-low and cover, simmering for 30-40 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
- Whilst the rice is cooking chop the vegetables into small pieces and steam separately in a steamer or saucepan with a little water, covered with a lid, until done. Feel free to vary the vegetables to what you have on hand, taking care to give an array or colours and textures with your choice if you can.
- Now assemble the satay sauce. Place the lemongrass, ginger, 1 stick of the celery, 1 tbs of the oil and 2 tbs water in a small food-processor and blend to a homogenous paste adding more water to gather up the ingredients together if necessary.
- Now add a tablespoon of oil to a heavy bottomed pan over a medium-low heat. When warm add the paste and stir regularly for 20 minutes until cooked through.
- As you are doing this place the peanuts and water in another pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until almost all the water has evaporated and the peanuts have thickened to a sauce.
- Now add the cooked paste to the peanuts, as well as the coconut milk, tamarind, sugar or honey and salt. Simmer for another 5 minutes until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat.
- To assemble the salad mix the vegetables with the rice and the satay sauce, leaving a little sauce to garnish each portion as well as a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves. Serve warm or just as good chilled.