Tag Archives: salad

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


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.


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.


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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.


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


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.



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


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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.


  • 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)


  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.


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.

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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

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 .

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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. […]

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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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