Kumara (Sweet Potato), Baked Spiced Ricotta, Spinach and Roast Grape Salad

With Olive and Caper Dressing

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Preparation info

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By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

  • About

Kumara are the native New Zealand sweet potato that were introduced by the first wave of Maori, arriving from the Pacific island of Rarotonga over 500 years ago. They are dense and sweet, but earthily sweet in a savoury way – if that makes sense!

Ricotta comes in many degrees of quality. The best tend to have a grainy and slightly lumpy texture, but often all you’ll be able to source is a very smooth type, which is fine for baking but not the best to eat raw.


  • 400 g ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon sweet pimenton (smoked paprika), or use mild paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 600 g kumara or sweet potato, skins scrubbed
  • 4 tablespoons hot water
  • 300 g grapes, off the stem
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or use a light vegetable or olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 handfuls of olives, stoned and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons baby capers, rinsed
  • 12 mint leaves, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
  • 400 g baby spinach


Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas 4, and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Slice the ricotta into 2 cm thick pieces and lay on the lined tray. Mix the pimenton, cumin and cinnamon together with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and brush this on the cheese. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake for 15 minutes, then take from the oven and leave to cool. Turn the oven up to 200°C, gas 6.

Cut the kumara into long thin wedges and place in a roasting dish, then pour in the hot water, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the remaining olive oil. Bake until just cooked (you’ll be able to insert a knife into them easily at the fattest end) and remove from oven.

Meanwhile, place the grapes into a non-reactive dish and pour on the pomegranate molasses, grapeseed oil and soy sauce. Bake this for 20 minutes in the same oven. Remove when done and leave to cool.

Once everything’s at room temperature, pour the juice from the cooked grapes into a bowl and mix in the olives, capers, mint and chives to form the dressing.

To Serve

Toss the spinach with half the dressing and place on 4 plates. Scatter pieces of kumara on top, then flake the ricotta on top of that. Scatter over the grapes, then drizzle the remaining dressing over the lot.