The past couple of years have welcomed the idea of the “superfood”. On the one hand, I am encouraged by the turn of affections towards health, however on the other hand I see impending environmental disaster. When marketers decide that a berry only grown on top of one mountain in a small village in Tibet is suddenly what we all need for immortality, it seems the resources used to get that particular berry to every health shop in Australia results in a CO2 emission to rival Kanye Wests private jet emissions. Put simply, I think it’s a gee-up (the Urban Dictionary defines this as “having a lend”, or “taking the piss”).
Apply some common sense. Why would our evolution (which technically shoots from Africa) have required us to attain a berry that grows only in Tibet, for good health? It doesn’t make any sense! Lets take goji berries for example. This self proclaimed “superfood” is touted as having the highest vitamin C level of all plants by some. A closer look finds they contain the same amount of vitamin C as an orange.
This salad is a homage to the forgotten superfoods. The humble underdogs, like the sweet potato, which contains more beta carotene than a carrot, and the cauliflower, which contains plant sterols that help to lower the “bad” cholesterol naturally. Like Bruce Jenner, they are a misunderstood, and at times harshly criticised, generation of unique personalities. Unlike Bruce however, in supporting these old school vegetables we are making a difference in protecting our environment and supporting local businesses at the same time.
These salad ingredients make this dish a late summer/early autumn specialty. Having said that, if there are different vegetables available at the time, get creative and use them! Ideas for winter substitutes include Brussels sprouts or turnips, or a summer salad could include beetroot or eggplant.
Serves 4 generous portions.
Ingredients for salad:
- 1 tablespoon cultured butter
- 2 sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
- ½ head cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 4 zucchinis, roughly sliced on the diagonal
- 3 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped into eights
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
- Sea salt and pepper, desired amount for seasoning
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives, roughly chopped
Ingredients for dressing:
- 3 heaped tablespoons hulled tahini
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Ingredients for topping:
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cultured butter
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 thai red chilli, finely chopped
- 25 curry leaves
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Melt butter by placing into oven for approximately 5 minutes in a roasting tray.
- Once butter is melted, place chopped sweet potatoes, cauliflower, zucchinis and red onions in the roasting tray, adding ground cumin, tumeric, salt and pepper. Mix to coat vegetables well with seasonings and butter. Place in oven for approximately 45 minutes or until vegetables are just browning and soft.
- While the vegetables are in the oven, pop the rice and 2 cups of filtered water in to a pot and place on high heat on the stove. Wait until water boils, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes or until all the water is absorbed, stirring every 10 minutes. When finished, fluff up with a fork.
- While the rice and vegetables are cooking, prepare the dressing. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl with a fork until you get the consistency of honey. Add more tahini to thicken and more water to thin the consistency.
- When all ingredients are ready, prepare the topping on the stove. In a pan, melt butter over high heat, then add mustard seeds. Wait 2 minutes, then add garlic, chilli and curry leaves. Stir and cook until garlic starts to brown, then remove from heat.
- To serve, mix vegetables in with rice, spoon over desired amount of tahini dressing, add topping and chopped chives to finish.