Pic of Spiced oca with spinach and dressed lentils

Spiced oca with spinach and dressed lentils

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Vegetarian mains

Spiced oca with spinach and dressed lentils

Main Serves 2 30 min
Oca, otherwise known as New Zealand yams, are tubers that look like gnarly radishes. They have a distinct lemon taste which lessens when cooked; they can also be eaten raw in salads. To prepare them, soak first to loosen the dirt. Then scrub well with a brush; there's no need to peel. Dry them with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper before coating in the spices. They're best with a little bite, so check them after 15 mins in the oven.


  • 400g oca
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 shallot
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tin dark lentils
  • 200g spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 15g parsley
  • 30g walnut pieces
  • ½ tbsp garam masala
  • 150g yogurt
Image of Spiced oca with spinach and dressed lentils


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 20 min
  • Step 1

    Preheat your oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Place the oca in the sink and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 mins.
  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, finely zest the lemon. Transfer to a bowl. Peel and finely slice the shallot into rings. Place in another bowl with a pinch of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Leave to macerate.
  • Step 3

    Scrub the oca to remove the dirt. Rinse and pat dry. Slice diagonally into 3-4cm pieces, keeping any small ones whole.
  • Step 4

    In a roasting tray, mix the smoked paprika, paprika, ground cumin and ground cinnamon with 1 tbsp oil. Toss in the oca and some seasoning. Roast for approx. 15-18 mins, turning halfway, until the oca is just tender.
  • Step 5

    While the oca cooks, drain and rinse the lentils. Wash the spinach. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
  • Step 6

    Finely chop the parsley leaves, including the stalks if they're not too thick. Roughly chop the walnuts.
  • Step 7

    Heat a frying pan and dry toast the walnuts for 3-4 mins, until smelling fragrant. Transfer into the lemon zest bowl with the parsley. Mix.
  • Step 8

    Let the frying pan cool slightly. Add 1 tbsp oil and gently fry the garlic for 30 secs. Be careful not to let it burn. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Mix in the garam masala, lentils and 3 tbsp yogurt. Heat through, season and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Step 9

    Divide the lentils between 2 plates. Top with the oca. Sprinkle over the herby nut mixture and enough pickled shallots, to taste. Finish with a drizzle of remaining yogurt.

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