Valentine’s day is rapidly approaching and given that I hardly ever create occasion-themed food I thought it would be a nice change to make a Valentine’s menu plan. I know that anyone living in London is completely screwed if they don’t get a reservation at least a month in advance for any of the popular restaurants! So for anyone stuck without a booking, or people just planning to stay home for the 14th, that’s what these dishes are for!
While it is primarily intended to be for Valentine’s day, I haven’t gone overboard with hearts and all that crap so it’s basically just a nice 3-course dinner for entertaining.
I wanted the recipes to be accessible to lots of people so every dish is gluten free and, even though the main dish contains meat, there’s a vegetarian option too (which I actually ended up preferring, to be honest)!
Right, so as Maria in Sound of Music rightly said ‘let’s start at the very beginning’! Crisp lettuce cups cradle a filling of roasted sweet potato, sharp grapefruit nuggets, a lick of paprika mayo and salty toasted pumpkin seeds. They’re the easiest things to make and all of the filling components and be prepped in advance so all you have to do on the day is put ’em together! If you’d rather serve this as a salad: shred the lettuce into ribbons and toss with the other ingredients, serving with extra paprika mayo (thinned out with some more grapefruit juice) as dressing.
– most mayo is gluten free but just double check the jar if you need to.
– You can easily swap out the grapefruit for orange
– Confused about segmenting grapefruit? Check out this Food52 post with step-by-step photos
– Serve this as a salad: shred the lettuce into ribbons and toss with the other prepped ingredients, serving with extra paprika mayo (thinned out with some more grapefruit juice) as dressing.
– Make this dish vegan by making paprika dressing instead of the mayo: in a jar stir together 3 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Lettuce boats with Sweet Potato, Grapefruit and Paprika Mayo
- 1 sweet potato , peeled and cut into 1-cm cubes
- olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 1 ruby grapefruit
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (depending on taste preference)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 head of baby gem lettuce
Toss the sweet potato onto a rimmed baking tray and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss together. Whack that into a cold oven and turn on to 200 C (400 F) - they'll need about 30 mins. Check on them occasionally, tossing them with a spatula throughout the roasting. Once done, set aside to cool until needed.
Meanwhile segment the grapefruit: Peel it like you would an orange and break in half. Holding the fruit over a bowl, use a sharp paring knife to cut away the top layer of skin on one segment, then slide the knife under the flesh at the inner seam to release it. !(See notes for help!)!.
Tear the segments into small (1-cm ish) pieces. The juice which collects in the bowl below will be used in a sec so don't throw it away! Set the segment pieces aside.
In a small jar or bowl, stir together the mayo and paprika with 2 tsp of the grapefruit juice. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
In a small skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds in a little bit of coconut oil with a sprinkle of salt over a high heat. They'll puff up and make a popping sound so you know they're done. Remove from the heat.
Peel the leaves off of the baby gem lettuce, wash and dry them. Spread about 1/2 tsp of the paprika mayo onto the leaf. Fill with roasted potato cubes and pieces of grapefruit segments. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped coriander.
Thin the rest of the mayo out with some water and then use a spoon to splash a bit more of it over the lettuce cups.
Serve immediately or chill until needed.