Bring on the veggies! Finally the weather is warmer and we no longer need to hide and eat comfort food all day. It is this time of year when I can easily (and happily) have a big bowl of crunchy salad with tender leaves and a drizzle of dressing for lunch. It’s healthy, quick to make and leaves you feeling so much better than a stodgy pie or dull sandwich. But we all know we can only eat so much salad before we get bored. So what to do? We then have to turn the humble basket of veggies into something exciting and with just a few tweaks here and there, you can easily change it up.
A great way of sprucing up a salad is by turning it into a ribbon salad. Anything that can be peeled into ribbons will work great. It looks really beautiful and basically anything goes! When making a ribbon salad I like to use a normal vegetable peeler to peel ribbons off some carrots, gherkins, cucumbers and courgettes. I simply toss them together with a bit of blue cheese, fresh basil leaves and some toasted almonds.
A creamy dressing made from blue cheese is a perfect accompaniment. For a dressing that serves 4, you can blend together 100g Gorgonzola with 2 cups of yoghurt until smooth and then add a dash of mustard and thin it out with some water if needed. Serve the salad with the dressing and some toasty bread on the side and you’re good to go!
If you often crave a bit of slap chips then you will love this recipe for Parmesan-crusted courgette chips. The great thing is that you keep the courgettes raw before breading them in some Panko crumbs. Crumbing anything in Panko crumbs is all the rage these days as these Asian-style breadcrumbs are unbelievably crispy once cooked - unlike the normal, very fine, generic supermarket-type. Serving it with a creamy avocado and horseradish dipping sauce gives it a fun gourmet twist.
If you love entertaining, then you know that antipasti or tapas are always a great hit with friends and family that come over. I love packing anti-pasti platters overflowing with cured meats, dips and veggies, but felt like I wanted to try something new this Summer so I opted for antipasti with a salad twist. It’s really easy!
You simply buy a few small heads of baby gem lettuce and then use the bigger leaves as little “salad cups”. You take your favourite dip or spread, like pesto, hummus, tzatziki or tapenade and add a dollop of that onto each leave. Then you pile on the flavours by adding little bits of typical antipasti elements like sun-dried tomatoes, capers, grilled artichokes, feta, Parma ham and olives. Top it off with some micro herbs and you have yourself a pretty starter that can easily be plated and served at dinner parties.
Parmesan-crusted courgette chips with an avocado and horseradish dipping sauce
4 courgettes, washed and sliced into thick slices
125ml ( ½ cup) cake flour, seasoned
125ml ( ½ cup) Panko crumbs
60ml ( ¼ cup) Parmesan, finely grated
Oil for deep frying
10ml (2tsp) creamed horseradish
80ml ( ? cup) Greek yoghurt
squeeze of lemon juice
5ml (1tsp) chives, finely chopped
Dip the sliced courgettes into the cake four. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg together with a splash of water. Combine the Panko and Parmesan and lightly season with some salt and pepper. Dip each slice of courgette into the egg wash and then into the Panko-mixture.
Heat the oil to 180°C. Fry the courgettes for a minute or so until golden and crisp. Drain them on some paper towel.
For the sauce, puree everything with a hand blender until smooth and season to taste. Serve it as a dipping sauce with the courgette chips.
By food stylist and recipe developer, Illanique van Aswegen.