Growing up, salad was not something I immediately connected to Nigerian cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, we did eat them, plenty of them in fact. I just don’t remember them as a ‘Nigerian thing’, more of a European thing, although interestingly the first salad I remember us making was called Chinese salad (chicken, vegetables and salad cream!). It was a very very simple salad but so so tasty. As life has moved on, I have of course realised that Nigerians eat salad and enjoy them. My newly purchased recipe book (Afro Vegan) has at least three salads that I want to try to make.
I started with the first one last weekend – Plantain Salad Imoyo. ‘Imoyo’ refers to a fusion of Nigerian and Brazilian cuisine. The Portuguese slave trade took West Africans to Brazil in the 15th century and when the descendents returned as free people in the 19th century they brought back green bell peppers, garlic and olive oil which were then incoporated into Nigerian cuisine. Imoyo dishes will often contain raw uncooked vegetables marinated in vinegar, lime or lemon juice. I was drawn to this recipe because I do not recall eating plantain any other way than fried, boiled or baked but never roasted and tossed into a salad…
This salad was delicious…
So tasty, so tasty – sweet, spicy, hot and refreshing all at the same time. So simple to make, it will definately be someting that I come back too.
2 ripe yellow plantains (with black splotches)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp fine salt
1 cucumber, finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced
30g/1oz fresh parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 avocado, peeled, destoned and diced (optional)
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 Scotch bonnet (to taste), very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 180oC/350oF (160oC/325oF fan). Top and tail the plantains, then score the skin down the length of each, trying not to cut through the flesh. Repeat down the opposite length and remove the skin, then cut the flesh into 1 1/2 cm/ 1/2 in dice.
Tip them onto a large non-stick baking tray, drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with the salt and toss to coat. Spread acorss the tray so the pieces don’t overlap, and roast for 30 – 35 minutes, or until golden and caramelised around the edges, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jug and give them a good stir.
Toss the cucumber, green pepper, parsley and cooled roasted plantain together in a large bowl. (Add the avocado, if using, too). Pour the dressing over everything and give it a good mix. Put the salad in the fridge for 30 minutes, so the falvours have a chance to infuse, then serve.
REFERENCE: Afro Vegan Family recipes from a British-Nigerian kitchen, Zoe Alakija. Page 76