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March 17, 2016

but it ain't really a picture | roast potato, haloumi and mushroom salad

This could have quite easily been another post about soup. A couple of weeks ago there were beetroot at the farmer's market, the long kind rather than the round kind, and as soon as I looked at them I thought 'it's about time I made borsht again' to myself. And that's just what I did, one cold and autumn-like evening, staining my fingers red and using the last of the lemons Mum brought from her tree when she visited.

However, heading into winter, there will be many more times to write about borsht and its incredible colour and ability to warm you up even on the coldest day. Maybe that will be next time! There will be less of an opportunity to write about substantial, season-change salads. I have to say, I never thought I'd be a salad for dinner person. Much like in my first flat where half of the flatmates didn't consider soup to be a "proper meal" no matter how many potatoes I included, or whether I baked focaccia bread to accompany it, I just didn't consider a "salad" to be a proper meal.

It isn't really a proper meal, if you just cut up some tomatoes and a cucumber, and add whatever leafy greenery you have lurking in your fridge or garden. But if you add some lentils, or bulghur wheat, or israeli couscous, or roasted kumara, you've got the beginnings of something more substantial. I've found such a salad a great way to use up the ends of things in the fridge at the end of the week. Cooking for one means you have to be especially attentive to ensure your produce doesn't go to waste.

The salad below ended up being dinner for three nights. The first night, I had it just as it was. The second night, I had it with smoked salmon and my parents down south in the Catlins, and the third night, I seared a lamb steak and sliced that over the top. I've been incorporating the occasional red meat in my diet to combat extremely low iron levels.

roast potato, haloumi and mushroom salad

3 medium potatoes, or the equivalent amount of small ones
brewer's yeast
2 lemons
olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 cup almonds
cherry tomatoes
leafy green - I used baby spinach
1 cup mushrooms
1 shallot
haloumi (as much or as little as you have, I used about 100g)

Scrub the potatoes (and peel them if you want, but I usually don't), cut into small pieces and place in a roasting dish. Add some olive oil, salt to season, the zest of a lemon, and about one tablespoon of brewer's yeast. Toss potatoes until they are all covered in the yeast/oil, and then roast at 200ยบ for around 30 minutes, until they are cooked through and brown around the edges.

In the meantime, dry roast the almonds in a pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes, giving them a shake every now and then. Set aside. In the same pan, heat a little oil, then fry the chopped shallot briefly before adding the mushrooms to cook. When the mushrooms have cooked, remove from the pan, and increase the heat a little before frying the haloumi. For this salad, I chopped the haloumi into small squares (to hide how little there was!) but if you like, you can leave it large.

In the last 5 minutes of cooking for the potatoes, add the cherry tomatoes to the roasting dish. Make a salad dressing with the juice of two lemons, an equal amount of olive oil (about one tablespoon) and a teaspoon of mustard. Give the almonds a bit of a bash in a mortar and pestle.

Add everything together and enjoy while the potatoes are still warm, though it's great cold too. It's a pretty forgiving recipe - you could add/swap the haloumi and mushrooms for just about anything - bacon, feta, zucchini... whatever you have in your fridge.

There's something quite delicious about the combination of sharpness and savoury from the lemon and yeast that the potatoes are roasted in, and I've made these roasted potatoes many times since. If you don't have brewer's yeast, I think that a good sprinkle of cumin could work in its place.

Lab work, and the semester starting, meaning the return of my teaching and tutoring schedule, have kept me pretty busy, but last weekend my parents came to visit and we escaped the city for the weekend - driving down the coast to the very desolate and very rugged Kaka Point. We drove down the long way, out to the coast, and stopped at Tunnel Beach on the way, where I assured M & D that the doc sign was inaccurate and it wouldn't be a 1 hour return walk (it was), reminiscent of times when I assured them that driving to Moeraki would only take 15 minutes from Dunedin. Estimating driving times has clearly never been much of a strong point. 

It was so good to get away - the first two photos are of Tunnel Beach, and Kaka Point respectively - to get out of the city and spend most of the weekend outside, looking out to sea, and of course, just spending time with my parents is a treat too. Next week when I'm in the lab over the Easter weekend I'll think of these beaches! 

I've been noticing leaves changing on the deciduous trees as I walk to work, and with each passing week more and more leaves drop onto the lawn outside the museum. Winter is on its way, and I'm finding that for now, I don't mind. Though I would appreciate our flat radiators being functional, it has been a chilly few nights on top of the big house recently! 


title from wild imagination - kurt vile. It wasn't easy to find a song because I've mostly been listening to instrumental music recently .. 

Maybe next time I'll tell you about making croissants if I ever get around to actually doing it rather than googling and youtubing it! 


  1. Going to make borscht tomorrow, we have beets growing abundantly that need to be used!

    1. yum! There's never a bad time to make borsht, and well done on growing your own beetroot. I've never tried, but maybe when I next live in a place where I can have a garden...

  2. Yes, tell me about borscht sometime this winter - I've never had it, and I love soup and I love beetroot, so that's a bit surprising really.

    I've also never cooked with brewer's yeast, intriguing, shall def have to try sometime.

    Glad you had a lovely weekend, what beautiful photos. I hope your Easter is lovely, despite working. Im x

    1. I will do! There's an excellent overview of a range of recipes someone tried and then wrote about for the Guardian, so in the mean time that might be useful..

      Brewer's yeast is delicious! I first discovered it on my six month foray into veganism. It's got a great savoury flavour. J used to make this amazing salad dressing called "liquid gold" with it, I must get the recipe off her sometime because that was incredible.

  3. I'm going to make this salad, Georgi. It sounds yummy.

    1. Oh yay, it was yum, and pretty easy to put together too! xx

  4. I've never in my life made borscht, and don't believe I've ever tasted it either. It is definitely on my to-try list!

    And those photos are breathtaking... you know how I feel about the ocean ;) such a nice breather from the every day. I always feel different standing on the shoreline. Hoping your weekend was a lovely one! xo

    1. me too - something about the beach is so soothing. x

  5. Beautiful pictures, and sounds/ looks so good. I've never used brewer's yeast in a recipe before! I hope you do croissants, those seem magically impossible to me :)

    xox Lilly

  6. Wow! What beautiful pictures, what magnificent food! The colors alone... and I'm sad to say I've never had borscht, though I always say it looks and sounds amazing, and I love all the ingredients in it, so I'm long overdue for making this!

  7. Hey Miss G. I'm back, hunting around in your blog for my favourite dhal recipe. Can't seem to find my blogging mojo, but I am trying to channel all my creative energy into other words instead. Your photos are calling me to New Zealand. I'm sure we will make the crossing one day. I ate borscht once, out of a shallow plastic bowl in a railway station in Poland. It was okay, but perhaps not the best introduction to this legendary soup. I have a veggie patch full of beetroot, so perhaps I should try it again? Hope you are keeping well. xx

  8. Those first two images are really beautiful. I hope all is well in your world. Was playing around on my blog and found an old comment from you - thank you xx