Tag Archives: salad

Panzanella with smoked chicken, capers & basil

6 Feb

Panzanella: a traditional Tuscan bread salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

These days, most of us have access to great bread. Here in my hometown of Stellenbosch I can buy a large loaf of freshly baked sour dough bread any day of the week at Schoon de Compagne, and I use it in so many ways.

On the first day, I just eat it on its own, drenched with great quality olive oil or topped with a thick slab of cold Ayrshire butter. On day 2, I eat it toasted as bruschetta with various toppings: slow roasted tomatoes with garlic, marinated peppers, baked aubergines with feta, the list is endless. On day 3, I use it to make croutons or process it to make breadcrumbs for toppings and stuffings. The uses are infinite and the bread just keeps on giving. (For more ideas, check out Saveur’s 40 favourite recipes with stale bread.)

The Italians have great ways of using stale bread. They make fantastic soups, salads, meat dishes and even puddings with it – economical and oh so tasty. One of my favourite Italian inspired ways of using a stale loaf is to make panzanella, a traditional summery Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes. There are many versions of panzanella, but mine contains tomatoes, yellow peppers, capers, basil, red onion and smoked chicken.

And here’s a handy tip: if you want to give your panzanella an authentic Italian look, don’t cut the bread, rather break it into chunks. This way the salad has so much more character. It’s a meal on its own, but don’t be afraid to serve it as one of many dishes on a lazy, extended, weekend lunch with lots of great wine in a shady spot under the trees.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a main meal, or 6 as a side dish)

For the “croutons”:

  •  about 3 cups of stale torn bread chunks (preferably sour dough or ciabatta)
  • 60 ml olive oil

For the dressing:

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/crushed
  • salt and black pepper for seasoning

For the salad:

  • 3 cups toasted croutons (see above)
  • 2 small smoked chicken breasts, sliced or torn into smaller chunks
  • 250 g mixed small tomatoes, sliced in half or in smaller slices
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeds and pith removed, sliced
  • 50 g capers (drained)
  • 1/4 cup of finely sliced red onion (optional)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves

Method:

  1. For the croutons: In a large pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and then toast the bread chunks until they are golden brown on all sides. Toss often until ready, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. For the dressing: mix all ingredients together in a cup, using a fork to whisk. Set aside.
  3. For the salad: in a large mixing bowl, add the croutons, chicken breast chunks, sliced tomatoes, sliced pepper, capers, red onion and basil. Pour half the dressing over the salad, then mix well. Add more dressing according to taste – I like it when the bread absorbs a lot of the dressing, resulting in a softer tangy chew. Transfer the mixed salad to a beautiful salad bowl, and serve immediately.

Note: If your loaf of stale bread has a very hard crust on the outside, cut it off before tearing the bread into chunks.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Quinoa salad

27 Jan

A summery quinoa salad, inspired by a traditional Middle Eastern “tabbouleh” (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Although quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) has been around for ages in South America, most people in South Africa are still getting used to this seedy superfood. Being very high in protein and free of gluten, most of us can eat it with a clear conscience. Yes, it looks kind of like a mini bean sprout, but have a mouthful and you’ll agree that it tastes like a member of the grain family – filling and really appetising.

I love serving cooked quinoa in a cold salad. It is a fabulous side dish for dinner, and makes the perfect leftover lunch for the next day. Crisp summer flavours of a traditional Middle Eastern tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad with tomatoes, cucumber, mint, parsley & lemon) are the perfect cornerstones for a great summery salad, so I substituted the bulgur wheat for quinoa and it worked like a charm.

I used tricoloured quinoa, but you can use whatever you can find.

Ingredients: (serves 6 as a side dish)

  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2,5 ml) salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) uncooked quinoa
  • 4 med-large ripe (still firm) tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 1 small English cucumber (of 1/2 large cucumber), seeded & diced
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely sliced spring onions
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped mint
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • juice of a small lemon
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Place water and salt in a medium size pot on the stove top and bring to the boil. Add quinoa, then turn heat down to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and leave to cool completely.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the chopped tomato, cucumber, spring onions, parsley, mint and garlic.  Add the lemon juice & olive oil, then season with salt and black pepper & mix well.
  3. Now add the cooled quinoa, and mix until well combined. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Fennel, celery & apple salad

10 Jan

Fennel, celery and apple salad, a summery bowl of crunchy goodness (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

This recipe must be one of my favourite “finds” of last year – a crispy, texture-rich salad that bursts with fresh green flavours. It contains only 3 ingredients (except for the dressing), and it is so very simple to make. It goes splendidly with grilled trout, salmon or other fish, and is a must on any summer lunch table.

This was my last recipe for The Pretty Blog in 2013, and what an amazing year it was for our food team! Thank you so much Nicola and Tasha for amazing days of inspiration, dedication, patience, food chatter and of course lots of eating. I absolutely love every second of putting together recipes and dishes with you girls! Here’s to many more in 2014, and hopefully even doing something in print in the near future…

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 large green apple (Granny Smith)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Slice the fennel bulbs horizontally into very fine shavings, preferably using a mandolin cutter or a food processor slicer. Finely cut some of the fennel fronds as well (about 1 cup), and place it all in a large salad bowl.
  2. Now also slice the celery finely, and cut the apple into fine julienne strips.
  3. Toss it all together, then drizzle with lemon juice & olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

Note: This salad can be made about 1-2 hours in advance, if covered and chilled. It is the dressing that prevents the apple from discolouring, so don’t forget to toss the salad in the dressing before storing it.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Grilled courgette and aubergine salad with bocconcini, lemon and mint

30 Sep

Grilled courgette & aubergine salad with lemon, garlic, mint and bocconcini

One of my go-to tapas when I entertain friends, is a simple dish of grilled aubergines, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and fresh mint. I have served it so many times, mostly as a topping on brushetta, and everytime without fail people ask me how I make it. It is just a hit!

I have decided to take this popular dish to new heights by turning it into a larger salad with the addition of grilled courgettes and bocconcini (or fior di latte). This way, you can serve it as a side dish accompanying a main meal, or even just with some sour dough bread as a light lunch. This salad contains quite a bit of fresh garlic, and I love the way it makes me long for the Italian countryside! But if you don’t really like garlic, you can leave it out completely.

You’ll be amazed by how far you can stretch 1 or 2 aubergines with this recipe. You are also welcome to add some fresh rocket leaves or other salad leaves of your choice.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1 large aubergine (or 2 medium)
  • 6 courgettes
  • 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • about 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely crushed
  • a handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Use a mandolin cutter to finely cut the aubergine into very thin slices. The key to this dish is the thinness of the slices – it should be paper thin. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler to finely cut the aubergines into strips (they can be slightly thicker than the aubergines because their texture is easier to work with). Set them aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice & rind, garlic and mint.
  3. Heat a griddle pan over high heat until it is very hot – takes about 5-8 minutes. Now grill the slices of aubergine/courgettes one batch at a time (without adding any oil), not overlapping the slices, turning them once, until they have brown griddle marks on each side (it takes 1-2 minutes a side). Remove with tongs, then place them on a plate next to each other, but not overlapping. Add another batch of slices to the pan and grill.
  4. While you are waiting for your next batch to grill, use a tablespoon to spoon some of the marinade over the grilled aubergines/courgettes on the plate, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with more grilled aubergines, then spoon over more marinade and season. Repeat until all the slices have been grilled and all the marinade have been spooned over. At this stage, you can cover it and refrigerate until later.
  5. Assemble the salad: use a fork to arrange slices of the vegetableson a large platter – because they are so thin, it looks great to fold them and stack them loosely. Top with slices of bocconcini / fior di latte (fresh mozzarella), and serve with good quality fresh bread like sour dough or ciabatta. A few extra wedges of lemon and a few mint leaves complete the picture. Enjoy!

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

Watermelon salad

7 Jan

A summery salad of watermelon, feta, walnuts, watercress and spring onions.

Today is the 7th of January 2013, and most of us have decided on a set of New Year’s resolutions. I can bet you that somewhere on that list is the resolution to lose weight in 2013 – don’t worry, you are not alone!

As most of you might know, I am not really a low-fat recipe writer. Not at all, actually. Most of my recipes contain butter, sugar, cream or oil (or all of the above). These are the things that make food taste great! But sometimes there is a place for lighter dishes, and I love them just as much as I love my full-fat food.

We are still enjoying the height of summer, and watermelons are abundant. These beautiful huge green bellies with their crisp, sweet, juicy centres epitomise summer in South Africa. They are also very versatile, and can even be eaten in savoury salads. This is my version of the very popular “watermelon & feta salad” with watercress, spring onions and walnuts.

I dress this salad very lightly with a sprinkle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. You can also add some freshly ground black pepper, but salt isn’t really needed because of the salt content in the feta. Use low-fat feta if you prefer.

Ingredients: (adjust quantities according to the size of your party and your preference – no rules apply!)

  • watercress leaves
  • fresh watermelon, green & white parts removed, sliced and roughly cubed (remove seeds if you want to make the effort)
  • feta, roughly crumbled
  • spring onions, finely sliced
  • walnuts, very roughly chopped
  • black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Method:

On a large serving platter, arrange watercress leaves, then watermelon, then feta, then  spring onions and walnuts. Top with some freshly ground black pepper, then dress very lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

 

Ultimate Braai Day Salad

24 Sep

Ultimate braai day salad with cos lettuce, avo, peas, danish feta, croutons, bacon and green goddess dressing (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

This year on the 24th of September, I want to place more emphasis on side dishes than the braai meat. Of course I love a great piece of steak, chop and wors, but sometimes the side dishes can be bland and rushed. At the end of the party, you’re often left with a massive bowl of unimaginitive boiled potatoes covered in mayonnaise and a “mixed salad” which no-one paid any attention to.

So what are my suggestions for the ultimate braai day side dishes? I think a freshly baked bread is always a winner. I prefer Franck Dangereux’s oil bread when I’m hosting a party – magnificent to keep the guests happy while the meat is still on the fire. Secondly, I would serve a warm potato salad made with baby potatoes, asparagus and gruyere cheese, dressed with a tangy mustard vinaigrette, or a creamy potato bake made with fresh cream, black pepper and lots of parmesan cheese. And then of course we need a bowl of fresh and crips cos lettuce leaves: my ultimate braai day salad with avocado, crispy bacon, peas, croutons, danish feta and a thick green goddess dressing. This salad is great because it keeps meat eaters happy but also scores points from the green veg lovers.

I always serve my large salads on a big tray rather than a deep bowl – this way none of the goodies can sink to the bottom and everyone can see exactly what they’re dishing up. And it looks generous!

PS: Don’t forget the traditional tomato/cheese/onion/chutney “braaibroodjies”! Everyone loves them!

Ingredients for salad:

  • a bag of fresh, crisp, small cos lettuce leaves
  • 2 ripe avocados, scooped out into rough chunks with a teaspoon
  • 2/3 cup of fresh green peas*
  • 200 g danish feta, crumbled into large chunks
  • 1 cup of croutons **
  • 200 g lean bacon, chopped and fried until crisp

* I buy frozen peas and leave them to thaw, but use them uncooked.

** I make my own croutons by frying cubed sourdough bread in Canola oil for about a minute, then drain on kitchen paper.

Method:

Arrange all the ingredients in the listed order on a large serving platter. End off with the bacon, then drizzle with green goddess dressing just before serving.

Ingredients for green goddess dressing:

  • 2 heaped tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Greek yoghurt (or plain)
  • 1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 handful chopped chives

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together in a cup with a fork – this makes a thick, luxurious dressing. Add a teaspoon of warm water if dressing is too thick. Serve extra dressing on the side.

 

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

 

Roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad

15 Aug

Beetroot salat with goats cheese and pine nuts (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Beetroot can be the most boring thing on your plate, or the most magnificent. As a child, I used to hate beetroot. We always had the store-bought grated version, and I couldn’t stand it. As I got older, I discovered that beets could taste so different if you just cook it properly and serve it simply.

One of my favourite combinations for beetroot, is to serve it with goats cheese. The roasted beetroot is so sweet and fragrant, and the goats cheese is ultra creamy and tangy. Coupled with peppery rocket leaves and crunchy nuts it is such a fantastic starter or side salad, and it really looks breathtaking.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands all purple – it comes off after a few washes. Otherwise use rubber gloves.

Ingredients:

  • roughly 10 medium-sized beets (or 15 small beets)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 80-100 ml olive oil
  • 45 ml balsamic vinegar
  • juice and rind of a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 g soft goats cheese (I used a log of Fairview Chevin)
  • a bunch of rocket/baby spinach/watercress leaves
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted (or cashew nuts)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 C.
  2. Peel the beetroot, and cut off the ends. Cut in halves, or leave whole if they are small.
  3. Arrange peeled beetroot in a roasting tray, then sprinkle with thyme leaves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice & rind. Season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the beetroot well.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, then add about 1/2 a cup of water and cover with foil. Return to the oven at 180 C and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the beets are tender (test with a small, sharp knife). Remove from oven and cool in the pan. Do not discard juices.
  5. In a large salad bowl, arrange green leaves (I like to dress the leaves in a little olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of salt & pepper). Slice the beetroot in smaller wedges if necessary, then coat in their juices before arranging them on the leaves. Top with crumbled chevin and toasted nuts. Serve with extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

Grilled nectarine salad with roasted chicken, feta, rocket and peanuts

18 Jan

Grilled nectarine salad with roasted chicken, Danish feta, rocket and peanuts.

A serious heat wave is currently ruling the Cape. Over the last few days in Stellenbosch the mercury has risen to 40 degrees Celsius. On days like these it is impossible to eat hot food, so it’s the perfect inspiration for cold salads using delicious seasonal fruit.

My favorite childhood memories of summer-fruit come from our vacations on Keurboomstrand. There is an unbeatable farm stall just outside Keurbooms called Thyme & Again, on the N2 approximately 15 minutes from Plettenberg Bay. This farm stall is always packed with incredible seasonal summer fruit: watermelon, sweet melon, grapes and the best export quality nectarines. It was the kind you could only eat over the kitchen sink, or perhaps over the edge of the wooden porch while overlooking the sea,  the sweet juices running over your hands.

Here in Stellenbosch I now buy my vegetables at Blue Jay Farm Stall on the R44 just outside town. It’s a very small shop with a walk-in cool room, filled with shelves after shelves of delicious seasonal fruit and a huge fridge full of freshly squeezed, organic, seasonal fruit juice. They also grow small quantities of organic vegetables in their front garden. Best of all: Blue Jay’s prices are superb.

This week I bought a large box of nectarines from Blue Jay. It’s the perfect food to eat on sweltering summer days in Stellenbosch. Instead of a fresh fruit salad, I decided instead to grill the nectarines for a few minutes with honey and black pepper, and arrange them with cold slices of roasted chicken, Danish feta cubes, rocket leaves, roasted peanuts and a honey mustard dressing. It’s sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy and spicy – all at the same time.

Note: In the 40 degree heat of the day, the rocket began to wilt immediately when I started taking pictures, so I would imagine it in the refrigerator until the last-minute before serving.

Tip: I love the soft texture and sweet taste that nectarines get when roasted. The results are best when grilled on an open fire, but on hot days the last thing you want to do is to stand in front of a hot fire. Alternatively you can ignore the grilling and just cut the fruit into slices, serving it cool and fresh!

Ingredients for salad: (adjust the quantities as you like)
• rocket leaves (baby spinach leaves will also work well)
• cold roasted chicken breasts, sliced ​​(I buy it ready-roasted)
• Danish feta cheese
• fresh nectarines, sliced
• honey and freshly ground black pepper
• roasted peanuts (chopped or whole)

Ingredients for the dressing:
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoons of “cold-pressed extra virgin” olive oil
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
• 1 teaspoon honey

Method:
1. Preheat your oven’s grill. Arrange the skinny peach slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little honey and sprinkle with black pepper and roast for about 5 minutes or until lightly colored. Allow to cool (otherwise they will wilt the rocket leaves instantly).
2. Arrange the rocket, chicken, feta, roasted peaches and peanuts on a large, flat salad platter.
3. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce and pour over the salad. Serve immediately, preferably, or keep the salad cold in the refrigerator until just before serving.

This recipe will be featured live on RSG, 100-104fm, on Thursday morning 19 January 2012 between 9 and 10 am, with Nina Timm www.my-easy-cooking.com .

Beetroot salad with cumin

4 Jul

Beetroot salad with cumin (as featured on Foodgawker.com)

I hated beetroot when I was younger – despised it as a kid, but hated it right up untill I was in my mid twenties. My mother always dished up pickled grated beetroot for lunch and dinner, and I couldn’t stand the way it “contaminated” everything else on my plate, the red watery sauce just seeping into every crumb of neighbouring food and colouring it a horrible bright pink.

Then I walked into Melissa’s a few years ago, and tried some of their beetroot and goats cheese salad as part of the lunch buffet. It was packed to the brim with great goodies like walnuts, fresh rocket and a wonderful tangy dressing that made this my first positive beetroot experience ever. And most important: it was made with freshly boiled sweet beetroot, skinned and sliced into slim wedges. It wasn’t dripping with the watery pink horrible sauce I remembered from my youth. It was just fantastic, and I became a beet fan. […]

Watermelon “carpacchio” with gorgonzola, almonds, cucumber and crushed basil oil

10 Mar

I bought a massive watermelon 2 days ago, so big and heavy I could almost not pick it up. It was on special, so I just crossed my fingers hoping that the texture and taste would be as impressive as the size. To my delight, it was perfect.

I’ve been a huge fan of watermelon in summertime since I was a kid. My father would cut us huge wheels and we would sit at our campsite in Keurboomstrand’s Arch Rock Caravan Park each with our own sharp knife to cut tailored bites and remove the pips. I am totally happy to eat my watermelon on it’s own, but sometimes a watermelon this big in a household as small as mine calls for some creative culinary adventures. […]

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