Lately I’ve been noticing how expensive it is to go out and eat. Here in Toronto it seems to be common place that a regular salad will cost you anywhere from $9 for a plain garden salad all the way up to $20 for a “fancy” one. Really? $20 for some lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, and maybe some sort of protein. It’s really quite amazing how much food is marked up in restaurants compared to how much you can make it for at home. But, I’m not really complaining since I do know how much labour costs and everything else that goes into running a restaurant costs. After all, you’re not really just paying for the food when you go to a restaurant. There’s the service, ambiance, experience, etc.
However, just yesterday I went for afternoon tea with my sister in one of the “high end” areas of Toronto. I put high end in quotes because I really just think all the people that frequent those places just like to pretend they’re high end and better than everyone else. They’re not.
Anyway, my point is, I’ve been for afternoon tea a few times before at a bunch of different tea rooms and I’d say that this was one of my worst experiences. You’d think that $100 would get you some nicely prepared sandwiches, some properly brewed tea, and hopefully some really great service. Unfortunately, the service and the quality of the food was incredibly similar to the whole vibe I get from that area in general.
So, back to salad.
I don’t have much of a recipe today but this is just a salad that I like to eat when I want something filling with lots of different textures, flavours, and colours. It’s a really good meal for a hot summer day when the thought of eating hot food makes you break into a sweat. I never really make it the same way every time but I try to keep a few main ingredients such as sweet potatoes, pecans, and apples in there and then add whatever else I have on hand at the time.
Sweet Potato, Apple, and Pecan salad
Makes 1 large salad (approximately)
About 2 cups of mixed lettuce greens (spring mix)
Sweet potato fries (recipe below)
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 a medium apple (something crisp such as a honey crisp works well), sliced
small handful of bocconcini cheese or about 2 tbsp of goat’s cheese, chopped or crumbled
about 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
good aged balsamic vinegar, about 2 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil, about 1 tbsp
First prepare the sweet potato fries. Lay out the greens on a plate and top with fries, apples, etc. drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil or top with your favourite dressing. I like this Wild Ginger one from Fresh Restaurants.
Note: this is just a rough recipe and the amounts aren’t exact. Feel free to add more, less, or omit or add ingredients.
Sweet potato fries
1/2 medium caribbean sweet potato (the one with a reddish skin and yellow/white on the inside)
1 tbsp cold pressed coconut oil or any other high heat cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Wash and cut the sweet potato into about 1cm x 1cm x 10cm pieces. Melt the coconut oil in a large bowl and toss the fries in the oil. Lay out evenly onto the tray and bake for 15 minutes and then flip the fries and bake for about another 15 minutes or until golden.