My prediction is that we’ll be seeing a lot more pickled green walnuts on menus in 2015. If you can’t find them, try using pickled artichokes as a substitute.
Sweet Potato Salad with Avocado, Feta and Pickled Green Walnuts
Serves 4 to 6
This dish was born one afternoon at home when we went to the kitchen to make lunch and came back with a bowl of baked sweet potatoes topped with avocado, sprouts, and yogurt. Although an unexpected combination, it proved a surprisingly good one that inspired us to see how we could turn this simple snack into a dish fit for the restaurant. We swapped out yogurt in favor of feta and added pickled green walnuts, which have a caperlike flavor that gives the dish a bright, acidic finish. Pickled artichokes can be substituted for the green walnuts.
Satsuma imo is a Japanese sweet potato with a more subtle flavor, a softer texture, and a lighter color than such familiar sweet potato varieties as Garnet or Jewel. It is also denser and more savory than most sweet potatoes. If you can’t find satsuma imo, use white sweet potato.
1 lb/455 g satsuma imo or white sweet potatoes
HONEY LEMON DRESSING
3/4 cup/180 ml fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup/75 ml toasted walnut or grapeseed oil
2 tbsp fermented honey, or honey
1/4 bunch fresh dill
1 garlic clove
2 tsp kosher salt
1 fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
2 or 3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into slices 1/4 to 1/2 in/6 to 12 mm thick
1/4 cup/40 g mixed bean sprouts, such as mung, lentil, and/or fenugreek
2 cups/75 g purslane or arugula
6 pickled green walnuts, thinly sliced
Small handful fresh dill leaves
Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp walnut oil
4 oz/115 g cheese in the style of feta
Preheat the oven to 300°F/180°C. Set a wire rack on a sheet pan, put the sweet potatoes on the rack, and bake until just tender enough to be easily pierced with a skewer, about 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Peel the potatoes and cut into rounds or half-moons 1/4 in/6 mm thick. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for up to 4 hours or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
TO MAKE THE HONEY LEMON DRESSING: In a blender, combine the lemon juice, walnut oil, honey, dill, garlic, and salt and purée until smooth. The dressing can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Shake well before using.
Set aside 2 tbsp of the dressing. In a medium bowl, toss the fennel with the remaining dressing, coating evenly.
Arrange an even layer of potato on a large serving platter. Top with the avocado slices, then the sprouts, and season with salt. Add the purslane to the bowl with the fennel, toss to coat, and arrange on top of the avocados and sprouts. Add the walnut slices, cover with the dill and parsley, and season with pepper. Pour the reserved dressing and the walnut oil evenly over all. Grate or crumble the cheese over the top, covering the salad completely. Serve immediately.