Tag Archives: salad

White anchovy, asparagus & parmesan salad

27 May

White anchovy salad with asparagus & parmesan (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

White anchovy salad with asparagus & parmesan (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’ve always loved dark little anchovy fillets in oil, salty as hell with a strong fishy flavour. But last year I discovered white anchovy fillets – larger, silky in texture, tender, more delicate in flavour. These days you can buy them “ready for tapas”, marinated in a fantastic garlic & herb vinaigrette that is good enough to use as is over bruschetta or salad.

This white anchovy salad is such a simple yet fabulous starter. I came across fresh white asparagus and used it here because of its strange pale beauty, although you can easily substitute with regular green asparagus.

Tip: To create a slightly more bulky main course, top with softly poached eggs and serve with toasted bruschetta.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a side dish or starter)

  • a medium/large bunch of rocket leaves
  • a handful of white or green asparagus, poached in water (or grilled) for 1-2 minutes
  • about a cup of white anchovy fillets in garlic & herb vinaigrette (reserve liquid for dressing)
  • chunky shaved parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh lemon wedges

Method:

  1. On a large salad platter, arrange the rocket leaves, cooked asparagus, anchovy fillets and parmesan cheese. Season well with salt & pepper, then drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette.
  2. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and (optionally) toasted ciabatta.

Credits:

Recipe, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

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Farm to Table Festival at Boschendal, 23 & 24 April

21 Apr

Boschendal bannerA week ago I had the privilege of joining a handful of guests at Boschendal Farm for an intimate farm-to-table showcase. This historical farm dating from 1685, situated between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek on the Helshoogte Road, has been transformed over the past 3 years by new owners Sam and Rob Lundie into an agricultural farm that produces natural food in a way that respects the environment and helps the community to prosper.

The vineyards and fruit trees at Boschendal have been joined by lush vegetable gardens, a growing herd of free range, 100% pasture fed Angus cattle, a pasture raised chicken coup, picnics, two restaurants, a farm shop and deli showcasing all of the produce from the grounds, luxury guest accommodation, walking/cycling trails, child-friendly activities and much more.

Accomplished chef Christiaan Campbell has been part of the Boschendal journey for the past 18 months. His approach to food, with the availability of all the natural produce on the farm, has been to keep it simple and let Mother Nature do the talking. This respectful way of cooking helps guests to really taste the surrounding earth, soil and sun.

I was absolutely blown away by the professionalism, humble approach and honesty of the experience at Boschendal. A couple of hours was not enough to experience all there is to see and I’ll certainly be back to do a walking trail with my family, try my hand at fly-fishing, try the picnics and do a full wine tasting.

This weekend, Boschendal is hosting a comprehensive farm-to-table festival where you will be able to meet the team, learn from the farmers, join workshops hosted by some of the top professionals in the sustainable food industry, experience guided tastings and enjoy the best that this iconic farm has to offer. Booking is essential as space is limited. This event is a MUST on the calendar for serious food and wine lovers and explorers of the finest and most natural farms in the Western Cape.

In a nutshell: if you have not been to Boschendal lately, go there as soon as you can!

Here are some pictures from my last visit at Boschendal:

Stuffed tomatoes to enjoy with a glass of MCC.

Stuffed tomatoes to enjoy with a glass of MCC.

Chef Christiaan Campbell, nice enough to pose for a selfie with me.

Chef Christiaan Campbell, nice enough to pose for a selfie with me.

The garden team, responsible for a magnificent variety of produce.

The garden team, responsible for a magnificent variety of produce.

A shaded part of the vegetable garden.

A shaded part of the vegetable garden.

Taking a stroll through the lush gardens.

Taking a stroll through the lush gardens.

The beautifully restored manor house at Boschendal.

The beautifully restored manor house at Boschendal.

Inside Die Werf Restaurant. Beautiful Spanish decor.

Inside Die Werf Restaurant. Beautiful Spanish decor.

Chef Christiaan Campbell showing us how to make their farm to table menu.

Chef Christiaan Campbell showing us how to make their farm to table menu.

The starter straight from the garden, also with inhouse made nut cheese. Delicious.

The starter straight from the garden, also with in-house made nut cheese. Delicious.

A blurry feast with the most delicious wines, massive roasts from the beef herd and vegetables from the garden.

A blurry feast with the most delicious wines, massive roasts from the beef herd and vegetables from the garden.

Meringue egg shell, mango sorbet, granadilla curd, toasted hazelnut crumbs. Delightful.

Meringue egg-shell, mango sorbet, granadilla curd, toasted hazelnut crumbs. Delightful.

Thank you to the Boschendal team and Atmosphere Communications for the experience.

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Avo & blueberry salad with spinach, fennel & feta

6 Jan

Avo blueberry salad

Superfood salad of avocado, blueberries, baby spinach and fennel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Summer is reigning supreme in the Cape Winelands, with blazing hot weather that smells like wine tasting and picnics. I’m always looking for fresh salad ideas, especially when entertaining friends and family at home. This low carb salad contains a couple of superfoods and is so very satisfying to eat.

Blueberries make an excellent salad ingredient because of their dramatic colour and tartly sweet nature. They pop in your mouth and release their magic juices that work so well with the creaminess of ripe avo and the crunch of sliced fennel and fresh baby spinach. Add the salty zing of crumbled feta and you don’t need much else to make a perfect summer meal.

I made a purple salad dressing in my pestle & mortar using blueberries, olive oil & lemon juice, crushing the skins to release their colour.

Serve this as a side salad or as a fabulous light lunch on its own.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a light meal)

  • 200 g baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, skins & pips removed
  • 1 cup of blueberries (set a few aside for the dressing)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, washed and finely sliced
  • 1-2 rounds of feta, crumbled
  • some black sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
  • for the dressing:
    • 5-6 blueberries
    • 45 ml olive oil
    • 15 ml lemon juice
    • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Arrange the spinach leaves on a wide, large platter (not a deep bowl), then arrange the avo, blueberries, fennel & feta on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  2. To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a pestle & mortar and pound to a pulp, creating a pink emulsion. Season well with salt & pepper, then drizzle all over the salad.
  3. Serve at once.

Credits:

Recipe, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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Grilled asparagus & green bean salad with parmesan & cashews

11 Jul

Grilled asparagus salad with cashew nuts, parmesan & green beans (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Grilled asparagus salad with cashew nuts, parmesan & green beans (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few weeks ago, my parents came down to Stellenbosch from Keurbooms for a quick visit. My dad was scheduled to see a specialist about a double knee replacement (ouch), and it gave all of us a nice excuse to spend some quality time with the family.

We got together at my youngest brother Dirkie’s farmhouse cottage, where he and his partner Frans made us the most amazing lunch: pork ribs on an open fire rotisserie, grilled asparagus & fennel salad, bacon & mushroom quiche, and ending off with homemade coffee & brandy ice-cream with malva pudding. We ate like kings!

Dirkie told me that his idea for the salad came from Guy Fieri’s TV show, and that he was winging it that day from memory. It was absolutely magnificent. I wanted to make it for my blog, but couldn’t find fresh fennel on the day of the shoot. I substituted it with green beans, and the result was just as good.

This is my version of this delicious, luscious, green salad. Use whichever greens you love and substitute with any type of nuts that you prefer. Dirkie used pine nuts for his salad, but I find that toasted cashews make for a fantastic alternative. To bulk it up as a main meal, add a few soft boiled egg wedges. What a feast!

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 15-30 ml olive oil
  • one bunch of green asparagus, trimmed if necessary
  • one bunch of fine green beans, trimmed (or one bunch of baby fennel, sliced in quarters lengthways)
  • salt & pepper
  • a bunch of rocket and/or watercress leaves, washed & drained
  • 100g toasted cashew nuts
  • shaved parmesan cheese (about 25-35g)
  • for the dressing:
    • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
    • 1 knob of fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)
    • 10 ml wholegrain mustard
    • 30 ml lemon juice
    • 90 ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 30 ml finely grated parmesan cheese
    • salt & pepper

Method:

  1.  Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat, then fry the asparagus & beans in batches for just a minute or two until they get some colour, but remain crunchy. Season well with salt & pepper, then remove from the heat and transfer to a cool plate.
  2. On a large platter, arrange the rocket/watercress, then top with the grilled veg and toasted cashews.
  3. Use a vegetable peeler to shave parmesan shavings on top.
  4. Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a glass jar (shake vigorously with the lid covered), then drizzle all over the salad. Serve immediately.

Credits:

Text, recipe, food preparation & food styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & prop styling : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

This post was originally produced for The Pretty Blog.

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A dried fruit feast with Cecilia’s Farm

23 Sep

A few weeks ago I hosted 12 guests at the demo KITCHEN in Stellenbosch for a night of deliciousness in colaboration with Cecilia’s Farm. These guys make the most amazing selection of soft dried fruit and nuts, and recently also launched their online store.

I decided on a menu that would showcase their fruit to the fullest:

Canapés:

Turkish apricot delights with goat’s cheese, basil, almonds & honey

Starter:

Bon Chretien pear & blue cheese salad with roasted almonds & rocket

Main course:

Fragrant lamb tagine with prunes, peaches & figs

Dessert:

Apple tartlets with almond paste & vanilla ice cream

Click on the images below to view:

As part of the meal, we enjoyed the most delicious wines from Koelfontein Farm – a wooded chardonnay and a bold shiraz. The guests each got to take home a goodie bag filled with vouchers for Cecilia’s Farm’s online shop, and a homemade luxury breakfast bar to enjoy the next morning.

Thank you so much Cecilia’s Farm and Hatch PR for providing me with this delightful opportunity to discover these superior products, it was such a pleasure to cook with.

Here is a short video of how we made the salad on the night:

Check out how we made the lamb tagine:

And last but not least, here’s a peek into the dessert on the night:

And here are the recipes for our three courses:

Pear & cashew salad with blue cheese & rocket (serves 6)
• a large bunch of rocket leaves
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
• Salt & pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm Bon Chretien pears, sliced
• 100 g Cecilia’s Farm cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
• 120 g blue cheese, crumbled
Preparation:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the leaves, olive oil, lemon juice and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper, then arrange on a large flat salad plate.
2. Top with sliced pears, warm nuts, and crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Lamb tagine with prunes & peaches (serves 6)
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
• 1,25 kg boneless lamb (shoulder or leg), cut into 5cm cubes
• ½ cup (125 ml) white wine (or water)
• about 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• freshly ground pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm prunes
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm peeled cling peaches
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
• cooked cous-cous, to serve
• fresh coriander, to serve (optional)
Preparation
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 ˚C.
2. Add oil in a large iron pot or authentic tagine over medium-high heat, then add onions and fry until soft. Add spices and fry for another minute, stirring.
3. Increase heat to high, then add meat cubes and fry until the meat changes colour (you don’t have to brown it too much). Add wine/water, stir and bring to the boil. Cover pot with oven-proof lid, then roast for 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper, then add the peaches, prunes and honey. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is completely tender and the fruit are plump and soft.
5. Serve the tagine with cous-cous, topped with toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander leaves.
Note: Tagine can be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat gently, thinning with water if needed.

Pink Lady Apple and Almond Tartlets
Makes 12 tartlets
For the almond paste:
• 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
• 250 ml icing sugar
• ¼ teaspoon almond essence
• 1 egg white (large egg)

For the tartlet:

• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm apple rings
• 400 g all- butter puff pastry, defrosted
• 125 ml apricot jam (to glaze)
• vanilla ice cream (to serve)
Method:
1. For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients together in a food processor. Process until it comes together into a ball (add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove and refrigerate (for at least an hour) in an airtight plastic bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
3. Bring 1 litre water to the boil in a small sauce pan, then add the dried apple wedges and boil for 5 minutes to soften. Drain the water off and set aside.
4. Lay the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface, then cut into rectangles of 12 x 6 cm each.
5. Prick each of the rectangles carefully with a fork, leaving a border of about 1 cm around the edges, unpricked.
6. Grate the almond paste generously over each of the pastry rectangles (within the borders), then lay about 6 cooked apple wedges on top of the paste of each tartlet.
7. Place the tartlets on a baking tray lined with baking paper, then bake for 10 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and brush with fine apricot jam, then return to the oven for another 2-5 minutes to turn brown on the edges. Remove from the oven, then allow to cool slightly and serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on top.

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Orzo salad with chorizo, spinach & parmesan

2 Aug

Warm orzo salad with chorizo & spinach (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Warm orzo salad with chorizo & spinach (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Orzo (also called risoni or rosmarino) is a type of short cut pasta, shaped like a long flat grain of rice. While my mother served it to us plain as a substitute to rice with meaty stews, I only really started enjoying cooking with orzo in recent years. It’s the strangely delightful mouth-feel that I love most – something that works very well in stews, soups and salads.

In this recipe, I’ve combined a few ingredients that I just adore. First and foremost I chose the king of preserved sausages: chorizo – in my opinion one of the best ways of creating bold flavours in an instant. Smokey, spicy slices of chorizo will trump everyone’s favourite crispy bacon any day, in my opinion. But the flavour will only be as good as the product, so choose wisely. The other ingredients that make this dish magnificent are smoked paprika, baby spinach leaves, ripe cherry tomatoes, shavings of Parmesan cheese and some grated lemon rind.

This is an easy and comforting meal for anytime of the year – winter or summer. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  •  a large pot of salted water, suitable for the stove top
  • 500g orzo pasta
  • roughly 225 g of good quality chorizo sausage
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 g ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoons) smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • juice and finely grated zest of one medium size lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • 200 g baby spinach leaves
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (add as much as you want)

Method:

  1. Place the pot of salted water on the stove and bring to the boil. Add the orzo, stir, and set your timer for 7 minutes.
  2. Remove the skin from the chorizo sausage, then cut the chorizo into fine slices/discs (if the skin is not too hard you can leave it on)
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil, sliced chorizo & chopped garlic. Fry for about 5 minutes until the chorizo has turned slightly brown on all sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. (When the timer for the orzo goes off, drain the orzo in a colander, stir through a splash of olive oil and set it aside.)
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and paprika to the pan with chorizo, and stir-fry for another minute.
  6. Now add the wine to deglaze the pan, cooking until the wine has reduced by half. Remove from the heat.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked orzo and the contents of the frying pan. Also add the lemon juice and zest. Stir with a large spoon to mix thoroughly. Season with salt & pepper.
  8. Now stir through the fresh spinach leaves (they will wilt slightly from the heat of the orzo – that’s perfect), and top with shaved Parmesan.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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