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Goat’s cheese, quinoa and spicy sweet potato salad

September 30, 2010

Working late in the lab yesterday left me listening to The National on repeat (very soothing) and daydreaming dinner to ease the pain of repetitive pipetting. Its funny with science, thinking too much quite often destroys the experiment. Did I add this, did I mix that, did I do that twice? are sneaky worries that once invited in take a hold and quickly become convincing of their reality. Which means starting again. And again. None of this “lets just taste it and find out if I really did add the paprika” business. Its not hard to understand why cooking is soothing after the third time of setting something up again. Just in case.

Which brought me to yesterday and turning boring baked sweet potato into a more interesting, though highly weather-inappropriate and dinner-delaying salad. I always end up cooking more when I get home late. 10.30pm dinners are probably not healthy. Oh well.

Serves 2 (or 1 if you’re really hungry. I always eat less so I can be lazy the next day with cooking):



  • 1-2 head cos/romaine lettuce, or any mixed leaves
  • 50-100g goat’s cheese, cubed (I prefer a french chevre log. I had some very disappointing welsh stuff recently which was far too lemony)
  • 1 sweet potato (300-400g)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 60g quinoa


  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper to season


Preheat the oven to 220 oC/425 oF / gas 7. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Peel and chop the sweet potato into cubes, then toss in the dressing and throw into a shallow roasting tin or tray. Roast in the oven for 40 mins or so – turn halfway, and check towards the end to see when they’re soft. If you’re impatient like me, you can microwave the chunks for 4 mins first, then they roast more quickly. Whilst they’re roasting, boil some water, salt it, and then pop the quinoa in. Cook till the husk separates (which floats to the surface), then drain. When the sweet potatoes are done, mix with the quinoa and cubes of goats cheese, then pile on top of the bowls of leaves. Dress with a little bit of balsamic dressing, if you like.

1. Quinoa is amazing because it isn’t couscous and thus is both less boring and also wheat free. I’m listening to my poor stomach at the moment and avoiding wheat like I should. Its voice and the call of baguette are in a constant battle with each other over my eating habits. You could also use couscous or barley though if you prefer.
2. This could be fancied up in many ways if you have the liberty of going to the supermarket: fried lardons, shredded chicken, pumpkin seeds. Or substitute butternut squash for the sweet potato. Don’t swap the goat’s cheese, it is amazing and must stay at all costs.

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